The Burial of the Sardine

Today is Miércoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday) and here in Spain we celebrate the end of Carnaval with el Entierro de la Sardina (the Burial of the Sardine).

Here in Plasencia it’s a fairly small fiesta. Here’s a clip of last year’s festivities: 

I can’t stand the smell or the taste of sardines so I usually stay far, far away from the main square on Ash Wednesday. A few of the bars and restaurants set up in the square where they grill sardines and give them away to the public free of charge. Last year 1,500 sardines were consumed during the festivities.


Goya’s Entierro de la Sardina (circa 1810s)

Goya’s painting (which was given the title Entierro de la Sardina after the painter’s death) depicts a festive crowd celebrating on the first day of Lent. Festivals such as the Burial of the Sardine originated around the idea of mortality. The people celebrating wear masks to scare off the spirits of criminals and those unfortunate souls who died a violent death. The burial itself (which is basically a mock funeral procession with members of the public dressed up in subversive costumes) represents leaving the past behind and moving forward to allow society to become transformed and reborn with new life, energy and vigour.


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