Tuesday, July 23, 2013


    The festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines, in basque language Sanferminak) in the city of Pamplona (NavarreSpain), 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.

Saint Fermin
    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 Times

    The 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


    The 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-Riau

    The 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 procession

    The 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 mí

    After 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.

Daily events

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.

Giants and big-heads parade

    Every day, during the morning, there is a parade of gigantes y cabezudos (in English giants and big-heads respectively), with the giants figures being 150 years old. The eight giants figures were built by the painter from Pamplona Tadeo Amorena in 1860, and represent four pairs of kings and queens of four different races and places (Europe, Asia, America and Africa). Their size is around 4 meters each and are carried by a dancer inside a wooden structure. During the parade giants dance following the rhythm of traditional music. The remaining 17 figures include 6 kilikis, 5 big-heads, and 6 zaldikos and were built at different times between 1860 and 1941. Kilikis and big-heads are caricaturesque, but human-like figures that are carried as helmets. Big-heads masks are up to 1 meter high and kilikis slightly smaller. While big-heads simply precede the giants and wave their hands at spectators, kilikis run after children and carry a foam truncheon which they use to hit them with. Zaldikos are figures representing horses with its hiker and also run after children with a truncheon.

Traditional sports

    There are exhibitions and competitions of Basque rural sports every morning in the "Plaza de los Fueros", a square close to the city citadel, although they were formerly held in the bullring. Sports include stone lifting, wood cutting, or hay bale lifting. On the other hand the Jai alai tournament of Sanfermin is a prestigious competition of this variety of basque pelota. It is held in one of the courts of the city. Betting is common during these events


    Every afternoon between the 7th and 14th there is a bullfight in which the 6 bulls that have been driven to the bullring during the bullrunning of that day are killed. It begins at 18:30. In addition the 6th a bullfight with younger bulls and not fully trained bullfighters is performed while the 6th features bullfighters on horses (in Spanish "rejoneo"). While the bullring of the city is the third in size of the world, it is full every afternoon and tickets are hard to find.


    Every night a firework spectacle is held at the citadel park. Fireworks spectacles have been known to occur in Sanfermin as far back as 1595. Since the year 2000 an international fireworks contest is held.Thousands of people watch them seated on the grass around the citadel.


    Everyone has a fear of some sort, but not all of us suffer from the type of pathological fear called a “phobia.” Some phobias are well known, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in an open area or in a large crowd, and Thanatophobia, which is the fear of death. (I think we can all relate to the latter.) There are other phobias that are just plain bizarre; for instance, arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. This list, however, is devoted to those phobias that seem inherently unbearable. In other words, fears that fundamentally affect a sufferer’s quality of life to an extreme extent. While perusing the list, let’s keep in mind that there are real people suffering from these phobias; understanding the phobias themselves will allow us to understand (and sympathize with) the tribulations of the sufferers.

10. Ambulophobia

“The fear of walking or standing.”

    Imagine the implications of such a fear: the mere thought of standing or walking around fills you with utter terror. How in the world do you live a normal life? You certainly can’t travel around in a motorized chair all the time. Unfortunately for ambulophobes, human flying has not yet been achieved, either. It would seem that an individual suffering from this devastating phobia would be forced to confront their fear many, many times, every single day of their life. That doesn’t sound like fun.

9. Decidophobia

“The fear of making decisions.”

As you can see, some phobias have profound psychological consequences. If someone is deathly afraid of making a decision, then how do they go about life? Do they instruct others to make a decision for them? Isn’t that a decision in itself? Do they simply follow a real life equivalent of stream-of-consciousness, simply “going with the flow”, and not interfering with the normal course of events? But isn’t THAT a decision, too? Decidophobes must be in a constant state of mental flux; as long as they contemplate a decision, they shouldn’t experience fear. It’s the act of actually making the decision that terrifies them. This essentially means that any sort of personal interaction with the world requires a decidophobe to overcome traumatizing fear.

8. Epistemophobia (Gnosiophobia)

“The fear of knowledge.”

    What? The fear of knowledge? Indeed. No school. No education. No introduction to any new facts of any sort. Developing epistemophobia is akin to placing a cognitive cap on your development. You can’t learn anymore, unless you’re willing to withstand unrelenting terror throughout the entire process, which would obviously impair your ability to even comprehend the new material in the first place.

7. Cibophobia

“The fear of food.”

    Let’s perform a quick analysis of this situation: food is required to live. Cibophobes are frightened by food. This means such people have two options: (1) avoid food altogether, thereby killing themselves through malnutrition and dehydration, which is clearly not a viable (or attractive) prospect, or (2) stay alive by eating food and dealing with bone-chilling tremors every time a spoonful of cereal approaches their mouth. Imagine being a cibophobe; maybe you really enjoy macaroni-and-cheese, or bacon-and-cheddar cheeseburgers, or some other delectable dish. Well, now all the enjoyment you get out of those meals is wiped away because you’d be eating them with a touch of pepper, a dash of salt and a dollop of dread.

6. Somniphobia (Hypnophobia)

“The fear of sleep.”

    Just like the aforementioned phobia, this one involves something that we all need to stay alive: precious shut-eye. But whereas one might be able to go a few days without food, and thereby dampen the effects of cibophobia, it is much harder to remain functional even after a single day of sleepless activity. I can’t even imagine the overall physical and mental fatigue that this phobia causes; if you stay awake, you harm your body physiologically and undermine your brain’s capabilities, but if you try to go to sleep, you’re overwhelmed by fear which may, plausibly, make it impossible to fall asleep, anyway. Certainly a horrible fear for anyone to have to deal with.

5. Acousticophobia

“The morbid fear of sounds, including your own voice.”

    We are now moving into the territory of even more bizarrely limiting phobias. How does one live a normal life as an acousticophobe? Do you live in a sound-proof room? Do you walk around with ear plugs? Do you convince a doctor to surgically make you deaf? These all sound like rather drastic decisions, and dangerous ones, to boot, but the other alternative is not very promising: go through life and be horrified by any random noise, whether it’s the slight buzzing of a nearby housefly or the distant rumbling of thunder or the roar of a passing vehicle, or even your own voice. And even if you tried to shield yourself from the terror by covering your ears with your hands, that wouldn’t work; you’d still hear the blood rushing through your head. Scary.

4. Chronophobia

“The fear of the passing of time, or more generally of time itself.”

    Stretching this fear to its logical conclusion, one would assume that the fear of time also entails the fear of concepts pertaining to time, such as the past, the present, the future, and words like “later,” “early,” etc. What a horrible existence that would be, eh? Even if chronophobes aren’t afraid of words or ideas pertaining to time, they ARE afraid of time itself and of its passage, and as human beings we are well aware that time is constantly ticking away. Just imagine being a chronophobe, and staring at a watch or one of those old analog clocks with loudly-ticking second hands. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Every passing second reverberates like an earthquake of shock and terror through your soul.

3. Counterphobia

“The preference by a phobic for fearful situations.”

    Re-read that definition. This is an arcane, mind-bending phobia if there ever was one. So, we have a phobic, and this person actually SEEKS OUT those situations or objects that cause them intense discomfort and fear. This may sound like some sort of strange, twisted masochistic syndrome, but it’s thought that counterphobes engage in these activities in an effort to combat their phobia. I’m sure you’ve heard the old maxim advising you to “face your fears.” Well, for a person suffering from a phobia, that advice is a lot easier said than practiced. So counterphobes try to conquer their intense fears by placing themselves in their peculiarly fearful situations, which evidently does not work, so the counterphobe is in a constant oscillating existence of fight-or-flight. Thus, counterphobia takes the standard mental devastation caused by phobias and, just to make things worse, adds in a whole new level of psychological problems. Yeah, not a very nice phobia at all.

2. Phobophobia

“The morbid fear of developing a phobia.”

    Again, re-read that definition. Phobophobia is the fear of developing a fear. Well, wait a second – it’s already a fear, so in that case, isn’t phobophobia essentially a self-referential disorder? It would seem so. This is such a ridiculously complicated fear that it seems more like a paradox or brain-teaser than a legitimate fear, which is why I really pity any individuals suffering from it. They fear developing a fear, but they’ve already developed a fear, so phobophobia sort of feeds upon itself in an endless cycle, ad infinitum. Truly, truly disheartening.

1. Pantophobia

“The fear of everything.”

    At first, you almost want to laugh at this phobia. “The fear of everything? Really? That’s just absurd.” But then the realization sinks in and you finally understand the gravity of this phobia. Think about it: the fear of EVERYTHING. One source describes this phobia as “a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.” So, in a theoretical sense, a pantophobe can go through life in a completely normal way, enjoying themselves, except for the fact that they are haunted by an incessant, unwavering, relentless fear that some universal, esoteric sinister force is out there somewhere. Whereas all the other phobias in this list refer specifically to some cause, this one has been placed in the number one position because it entails a ubiquitous dread: no matter where a pantophobe goes, no matter what he does, every aspect of his life, every thought, every object, every relationship, interaction, environment, and moment is plagued by a nagging thought that an evil force is hovering above his head, following him from behind, closing in on all sides. All the time. Until the day he dies.


Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This might be our family's most requested birthday cake from now on. The recipe comes from a friend from church, Wendy. She is very popular at our house right now:-).

I first tasted this cake at Wendy's house during a Youth Council meeting. I could not figure out how they made it and was in awe of the flavor that seemed to take me back to my childhood. The layering impressed the dickens out of me and while I knew I was going to ask for the recipe, I was afraid it would look too involved.

I was wrong. This cake can be put together in 10 minutes flat. It calls for very few ingredients and it was a hit with everyone who ate of it. Please find some excuse to make this. Is there a birthday coming up? An anniversary? All I can say is that you better think of something.

 Banana Split Version (sliced bananas, strawberry sundae topping and crushed Oreos)

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (recipe from Wendy G.)
In the pictures (and directions below) you can see I lined my pan with foil.  I've made this many times since without lining the pan and then just serve it out of the pan.  Lifting the pieces individually out of the pan gets just as many oohs and ahhs:-). 

Also, feel free to use different flavored sundae toppings and different candies.  You can also add fruit.  Below is our favorite combination.

24 ice cream sandwiches
16 ounces of cool whip
1 jar caramel sundae topping
1 bag of your favorite candy, coarsely chopped Reeses peanut butter cups

Yep, that's it.

Lay half of the ice cream sandwiches (whole) in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan, trimming the last couple to get complete coverage. Top with half of the cool whip, half of the caramel sundae topping and half of the candy. Lay down another layer of ice cream sandwiches.  Top with remaining cool whip and spread out evenly with a knife, making a lip around the edge so the sundae topping won't run out and over the edges.  Top with remaining candy, cover and freeze for several hours (or overnight) before serving.

That's it.

Depending on how cold your freezer is, you may need to thaw it on the counter for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Now, I guess I could have made some homemade ice cream from local milk, baked my own chocolate wafers, whipped up some real whipped cream, made my own caramel sauce and candy.

But, oh, I would have missed the taste of those store-bought ice cream sandwiches I remember growing up. That, and, I would have pretty much gone insane. This pregnancy has lead to some short-cuts and eating this cake has made the idea of short-cuts much easier to deal with.