• Short Summary

    SORIA IS THE COLDEST PROVINCE IN SPAIN. BUT THE INHABITANTS OF SAN PEDRO MANRIQUE, A?

  • Description

    SORIA IS THE COLDEST PROVINCE IN SPAIN. BUT THE INHABITANTS OF SAN PEDRO MANRIQUE, A SMALL VILLAGE IN THIS NORTHERN REGION, DO THEIR BEST TO WARM UP ONCE A YEAR -- WITH A FIRE-WALKING CEREMONY.

    THE CEREMONY DATES FROM ANCIENT PAGAN RITES OF THE CELTIBERIC PEOPLES, WHO INVADED SPAIN BEFORE THE ROMANS, AND WERE THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF IBERIA. HOW AND WHY IT STARTED IS LOST IN THE MISTS OF TIME, BUT IT HAS CARRIED ON THROUGH THE CENTURIES, AND IS NOW AN ANNUAL HIGH-POINT FOR TOURISTS.

    ONLY MEN WERE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ACTUAL FIRE-WALKING. BUT THIS YEAR, FEMALE EMANCIPATION HAS TRIUMPHED, AND GIRLS TOO ARE ALLOWED TO TREAD THE FLAMES.

    PARTICIPANTS WALK THROUGH A TWELVE-FEET LONG BED OF BURNING EMBERS. THIS YEAR THE CIRCLE OF WATCHES ROUND THE ARENA INCLUDED TWO CRIPPLES -- PERHAPS LAST YEAR'S FIRE-WALKERS STILL RECOVERING. BUT THERE WERE NO CASUALTIES THIS TIME. SHOES AND SOCKS WERE STRIPPED OFF, AND BRAVE YOUNG MEN AND PRETTY YOUNG GIRLS STRODE UNCONCERNEDLY THROUGH THE FLAMES. SOME OF THEM CARRIED PASSENGERS ON THEIR BACKS -- INCLUDING THE MAYOR, AND THE VILLAGE PRIEST, AN INCONGRUOUS FIGURE IN THIS PAGAN SETTING. THE OLDEST MAN IN THE VILLAGE TOOK HIS TURN, AS HE HAS DONE FOR MOST OF HIS 74 YEARS.

    NO-ONE KNOWS WHY THE PARTICIPANTS APPEAR TO FEEL NO PAIN AND EMERGE UNHARMED. OLD HANDS AT THE CEREMONY SAY HEAVY STAMPING ALLEVIATES THE PAIN. BUT THE WILD DANCING AND DRINKING WHICH PRECEDE THE WALKING PERHAPS INDUCES SOME KIND OF SEMI-HYPNOTIC STATE WHICH DULLS SENSATION -- IN THE SAME WAY THAT THE 'DANCING DERVISHES' IN THE SUDAN DANCE THEMSELVES INTO A STUPOR ENABLING THEM TO CUT THEMSELVES WITHOUT APPARENT PAIN.

    WHEN THE LAST PARTICIPANT HAS WALKED THE FLAMES, THE ASHES ARE RAKED INTO A PILE AND LEFT TO DIE, AND SAN PEDRO MANRIQUE SLIPS BACK INTO THE ROUTINE OF THE SEASONS -- UNTIL NEXT YEAR'S FIRE IS LIT.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVABX65YEWMJ6RNEBN5C6KCQLTV
    Media URN:
    VLVABX65YEWMJ6RNEBN5C6KCQLTV
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    25/06/1969
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:01:17:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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