If there is one symbolic characteristic that is evident in every part of Spain, be it north, south, east, west, even in the islands and all the entities that made up the country. It is Bullfighting, it is the one and only tradition that cut across all other differences.
Unlike football, Bullfighting does not take place every weekend nor in winter but when it comes to town during the sunny and warm part of the year, it is always a spectacle, commanding high turn-outs inspite of the highly priced tickets for popular Toreros(bullfighters) and the present economic crunch. Toreros are accorded superstars status and are highly revered. Some hills of this highly passionate country are sometimes adorned with giants black plaques of the beasty bull they call Toro. You will sometimes find the same animal in the middle of the Red and Yellow spanish flag. This tradition has taken many forms since its inception about four hundred years ago, one notable form is the Bullrunning festival in Pamplona in the north of the country, it was not part of the original traditional bullfighting events but it has evolved to a must see event for tourist and citizens alike, this particular festival attracts tons of tourists every year and in turn earns the country valuable foreign exchange, visitors get killed or maimed sometimes. Some regions practice other forms of terrifying bullfights like lighting the bull’s horn with a fire pod and setting it free to chase after people and it does not just chase, it aims to maim people with or without the fire.
Bullfighting is no doubt a blood sport, I should say, a bloody sport, it is a common say here in Spain that bullfight is not for the qualmish. it has cost lives on both sides of the divide, tons of bulls have been killed and lots of poeple have died too, even professional Toreros are not left out, blood is common sight in bullrings, whether bulls’ or Toreors’, so if you are intending to attend a bullfight, be ready to see a lot of it. Albeit, it is a cruel treatment of the animals which when not in the bullrings are like any other domestic animal, tender and innocent but the moment they step into that ring, they take on a new status under the taunting and teasing of the Toreros. Attempts to abolish this tradition has not been generally successful so far despite the desperations of the animal activists, it is only in Catalonia that the killing of the bulls has been banned in the ring but bullfighting keeps its momentum. Every now and then, the activists device new ways of creating the awareness but it has not been welcomed so far because it is like denying the spanish national identity. The supporters of bullfighting, who are in the majority, argues that bullfighting is of immense cultural importance, they even compared it to other arts like dancing and music.
The first time I watched a bullfight, I was fascinated though, to watch a man weighing less than a hundred kilos stand in front of a bull weighing half a ton and sometimes charging at close to 80KPH. Yes, it is no doubt an art but when the Torero start to maneuvers the beast the way he desire and punching holes into its body in an effort to weaken it for the final kill, it becomes something else. Well, the spanish have been seeing this for ages and it never irritates them but when the man next door beats his dog, it becomes an issue. I once watched a man on spanish news get fined for maltreating his dogs. Toro is a no-go-area for animal activists, they can demonstrate in thenude all they want, even paint themselves in animal blood in order to get noticed, it does not matter to most spaniards, Toros are a part of their history, an important cultural history at that and it is untouchable for now, that might change in the future but it is still a most loved tradtional and an inseparable part of their love life.