Toro Júbilo (Medinaceli, Soria. Spain)


Medinaceli (Soria, Spain)

El Toro Jubilo, The Joyous Bull, and also commonly referred to as Bull of Fire, is a very popular festival not only in Medinaceli but also in Castellón, Valencia, Aragon and some towns in the valley of the Ebro, in Catalonia, Spain. But the festival held each November in Medinaceli is, by far, the most well-known. A variety of explanations are offered for this observance, one being that is celebrates the arrival of the bodies of five holy martyrs who were supposedly pulled by a bull, into Medinaceli, with burning wood in its horns.

During this festival, a bull’s horns are tied together by a rope. The bull is then dragged to a pole where he is immobilized and a device with two kinds of torches is fixed with screws at the ends of his horns. The torches are sprayed with a flammable liquid and lit. The bull’s horns burn half an hour to one hour, but many times longer. During the time the horns are burning, the bull tries in vain to escape the fire. Gradually the mud it was previously sprayed with (supposedly as protection), dries and breaks off, so the fire expands to the face, the eyes and the rest of the animal’s body. At the same time, various kinds of fireworks are also thrown into the contained space when the bull is. Smoke suffocates the bull, causing it to panic and jerk. The combination of these factors plus the sheer pain (the horns are an extremely sensitive area) and the terrible fear the bull experiences, makes it unable to withstand the pressure and it desperately throws itself against the post or fence that keeps him restrained. This too often causes it to dislocate its neck. This torture continues until the fire stops burning. Finally, and with the bull totally exhausted, the bull is released. A tamed bull is sent to lead the wounded bull outside of the torture area to a place where he is, oftentimes, killed.

This horrendous practice has been documented since the sixteenth century, but some scholars claim its existence dates back to the Bronze Age. Between 1962 and 1977, it was banned due to an organized campaign by some British reporters, but since then the ban has been lifted.