Excerpt from the book On a Tall Budget and Short Attention Span from the Teresa the Traveler Series.
When I got back onto Rambla Street I noticed some really large walking puppets so I went to investigate out and found myself in the middle of the gigantes y cabezudos (giants and big heads) procession. Huge hollow figures with paper-maché upper bodies and a long skirts for their lower bodies (under which the operator hides) were marching through town.
Giant puppets are synonymous with Spanish culture. The figures usually depict the bourgeois, peasants and different historical figures of local relevance such as kings, queens and the town’s founders.
The tradition started in the 1600’s as part of the festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines) in the city of Pamplona, Spain – an event famous for the running of the bulls. A group of bulls are let loose on a cordoned off street while people run in front of them hoping not to get trampled. Who came up with such an idiotic tradition in the first place?
In the evenings after the bullfight, it was customary to parade the giants around the square before putting them on the bonfire. Eight traditional original figures depicting four pairs of kings and queens from four different races representing the four corners of the world were built in 1860 by painter Pamplona Tadeo Amorena. Other more modern characters have since been added to enhance the tradition.
I could hardly believe how lucky I was to have visited Spain during this amazing festival. My horseshoes were in all the right places