Monday, July 18, 2011
Almost every culture in the world has its own vampire legend, and some date back thousands of years. Today, we are most familiar with Count Dracula and other folklore from Eastern Europe. Do you want to learn more? Here is a wealth of juicy trivia to sink your fangs into sink your fangs into this Halloween season.
1. Was the first vampire a woman? The oldest known vampire legends come from Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. Female demons called the Lilu were said to hunt women and children at night, and drink their blood.
2. Vlad III Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracul, was known for his incredible cruelty; he was alleged to have killed up to 30,000 people at one time! His bloodthirsty reputation inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.
3. The National Retail Federation listed "Vampire" as the second most popular adult Halloween costume in 2005. Vampires were the sixteenth most popular children's costume for the same year.
4. While modern pop culture usually portrays vampires as sensual and romantic, other countries don't see them that way: the Ghanan Asasabonsam vampire has iron teeth and hooks for feet - which they drop from treetops onto unsuspecting victims.
5. Some believe that Cain was the first vampire, cursed by God for slaying his brother, Abel. This theory is frequently found in popular films and games.
6. In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" movie won seven awards, including three Oscars.
7. Stakes, fire and sunlight aren't the only ways to kill a vampire. Other cultures recommend beheading a vampire, boiling it in vinegar, pounding a nail through its navel, or scattering birdseed on its tomb.
8. In Latin American folklore, El Chupacabras is a supernatural creature that drinks the blood of animals - usually chickens and goats.
9. According to popular tradition, vampires can shape-shift into wolves, bats, or clouds of mist.
10. In March 2007, self-proclaimed vampire hunters entered the tomb of Slobodan Milosevic and staked his body through the heart.
11. The medical condition porphyria has been blamed for many reports of vampirism. Its victims develop pale skin, sensitivity to sunlight, receding gums which make their teeth appear larger, and severe anemia- the cure for which, in ages past, might have included drinking animals' blood.
12. In the 17th Century, Countess Bathory of Hungary was said to bathe in human blood in order to preserve her beauty. Some even accused her of vampirism.
13. Vampire bats were named after vampires, not vice-versa.
The festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines, in basque language Sanferminak) in the city of Pamplona (Navarre, Spain), is a deeply rooted celebration held annually from 12:00, 6 July, when the opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo, to midnight 14 July, with the singing of the Pobre de Mí. While its most famous event is the encierro, or the running of the bulls, the week-long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honor of Saint Fermin, the co-patron of Navarre. Its events were central to the plot of The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, which brought it to the general attention of English-speaking people. It has become probably the most internationally renowned fiesta in Spain. Over 1,000,000 people come to watch this festival.
Fermin is said to have been the son of a Roman of senatorial rank in Pamplona in the 3rd century, who was converted to Christianity by Saint Honestus, a disciple of Saint Saturninus. According to tradition, he was baptised by Saturninus (in Navarre also known as Saint Cernin) at the spot now known as the "Small Well of Saint Cernin" Fermin was ordained a priest in Toulouse and returned to Pamplona as its first bishop. On a later preaching voyage, Fermin was beheaded in Amiens, France; and is now considered a martyr in the Catholic Church. It is believed he died on September 25, AD 303. There is no written record of veneration in Pamplona of the Saint until the 12th century. Saint Fermin, as well as Saint Francis Xavier, are now the two patrons of Navarre. At Pamplona, Saint Fermin; is now sometimes said to have met his end by being dragged through the streets of Pamplona by bulls, a fate more commonly attributed to his mentor, Saturnin.
The celebration of the festival has its origin in the combination of two different medieval events. Commercial secular fairs were held at the beginning of the summer. As cattle merchants came into town with their animals, eventually bullfighting came to be organized as a part of the tradition. Specifically, they were first documented in the 14th century. On the other hand religious ceremonies honoring the saint were held on October 10. However in 1591 they were transferred to the 7th of July to take place at the same time than the fair; when Pamplona's weather is better. This is considered to be the beginning of the Sanfermines. At that time they lasted two days but they were extended until the 10th and nowadays endure until the 14th. During medieval times acts included an opening speech, musicians, tournaments, theater, bullfights, dances or even fireworks. Bullrunning appears in 17th and 18th century chronicles together with the presence of foreigners and the first concerns on the excessive drinking and dissolute behavior during the event. The Giant's Parade was created by the end in the mid of the 19th century. The first official bullring was constructed in 1844.
Modern TimesThe worldwide fame of the modern festival, and the great number of foreign visitors it receives every year, are closely related to the description by Ernest Hemingway's book The Sun Also Rises and his job as a journalist. He was greatly amused in his first visit in 1923 coming back many times until 1959. Hemingway was also deeply fond of bullrunnings and bullfights. Different city locations are famous in part due to the fact that the writer used to visit them, such as the La perla hotel, or the Iruña café.
Single Day Events
ChupinazoThe opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo (or txupinazo in Basque language). The rocket is launched at 12:00 noon on the 6th of July from a city hall balcony with thousands of people celebrating the act in the city hall square and other locations in Pamplona.
The Riau-RiauThe Riau-Riau was a mass activity held on 6 July. The members of the city council would parade from the City Hall to a nearby chapel dedicated to Saint Fermín. Protesting youths would mass blocking the way, dancing to the Astrain Waltz played by the city band. The councilors would be stuck for hours sometimes being unable to exit the City Hall. The procession was finally removed from the festival calendar for political reasons as extremists used the "Riau-Riau" to promote unrest and clashes with authorities, police and other participants. Nevertheless in recent years in has been held unofficially without the participation of the members of the city council.
San Fermin processionThe most important day of the festival is 7 July, when thousands of people accompany a replica of the statue of Saint Fermin along the streets in the old part of Pamplona. Saint Fermín is accompanied by dancers and street entertainers, such as the Gigantes and the Cabezudos and different political and religious authorities.
Pobre de míAfter nine days of partying, the people of Pamplona meet in the Townhall Plaza at midnight on 14 July, singing the traditional mournful notes of the Pobre de Mí ('Poor Me'), in a candlelit ending.
Running of The Bulls
The running of the bulls involves hundreds of people running in front of six bulls and another six steers down an 0.51 mile stretch of narrow streets of a section of the old town of Pamplona. The event begins at 8 a.m. when a first firecracker is lit to announce the release of the bulls from their corral. It is held between the 7th and the 14th. Runners gather earlier at the beginning of the itinerary to ask for the protection of the Saint by singing a chant three times before a small statue of San Fermin which has been placed in a raised niche in a wall. A second cracker signals that the last bull has left the corral. The run ends in the Pamplona's bullring taking a mean time of around 3 minutes where the bulls would be held until the afternoons bullfight when they would be killed. Once all of the bulls have entered the arena, a third rocket is released while a fourth firecracker indicates that the bulls are in their bullpens and the run has concluded. The event is dangerous. Since 1925, 15 people have been killed during the event –– most recently on 10 July 2009 -- and every year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious.
After the end of the run young cows with wrapped horns are released in the bullring and toss the participants, to the amusement of the crowd.