Two different celebrations take place during the Festival of Saint John in San Pedro Manrique, Soria. The famous ‘Paso del Fuego’ (Firewalking) on the eve of Saint John and that known as ‘Las Móndidas‘, on the 24 th of June. Both of these festivals have been declared of National Tourist and Cultural Interest.
“EL PASO DEL FUEGO” (FIREWALKING)
On Midsummer Night, bonfires are lit in celebration everywhere, but the way in which San Pedro Manrique celebrates is quite unusual. ‘El Paso del Fuego’ is an ancient rite of uncertain origin during which people walk barefoot walk over a bed of hot embers.
Who may pass over the embers?
Only inhabitants of San Pedro Manrique are permitted to pass over this burning carpet and do so accompanied by the fanfare of a trumpet. The ‘Móndidas’ (three local girls who play the role of priestesses) are the first to cross the embers but are carried on the backs of gallant young men afterwhich any one of the neighbours may partake of this ancestral tradition. In the past it was rare for women to participate but nowadays it is not unusual to see them enduring this ritual.
Things to bear in mind…
It is said that to complete the ritual unscathed without any burns participants must be both mentally and physically prepared, but it would appear there are other reasons why people usually complete the walk with just minor blistering or none at all.
Many of the walkers generally carry someone on their back as the extra weight helps avoid combustion. There should be no oxygen between the feet and the embers so they must tread heavily and firmly.
The pyre burns off several hours before the firewalk begins thus ensuring that any water in the wood, which is of high thermal conductivity, is evaporated. (David Willey -Physics). The thermal conductivity of the embers is very poor instead, but it is very important that they are free of any foreign material that has been known to cause more serious burns.
On arrival in San Pedro Manrique I was relieved to discover that foreigners are not allowed to participate in this ritual. I usually like to actively participate in such events, thus gaining a real experience of what is happening but in this case I was relieved at the thought of not burning my feet. Having spoken with many of the locals and reading different articles on the subject, I now feel a little more relaxed about the idea of enjoying this experience.
What about you? Would you take a crack at it?