Published on August 23rd, 2012 | by Matthew Young0
La Bondad, La Gracia, Grandes Bolas de Fuego
So, you are standing there, in the middle of the street, gloves up to your elbows with your face painted. You reach for a handful of fuel soaked rags, set them alight and toss them across the street into the night. In any other city, anywhere in the world you’d most probably be slammed into the back of a riot van and charged with aggravated assault and arson, but not in the El Salvador city of Nejapa on the 31st of August, its Grandes Bolas de Fuego.
Every year the young brave, bold and insane inhabitants of Nejapa meet up to throw flaming balls of fire at each other at the festival, ‘Bolas de Fuego’. This ritualistic mayhem was born out of a violent volcanic eruption, which took place in the 15th century. It caused the inhabitants of the city to up-sticks and evacuate and as they looked up into the night, balls of flame thundered though the sky. The people of Nejapa believed this powerful sight to be their Patron Saint Jeronimo fighting the devil with balls of fire.
During the day there is a festival of wild music, drink and hot, hot food and when night falls the young men don their war paint and gloves and hold their very own battle of good vs. evil.
Many participants often take a fireball to the face and have their clothes set alight, but there have been very little reports of anyone actually been seriously injured. Along with Pamplona’s ‘Running of the Bull’ and Tarragona’s ‘Castells ‘ Competition, Nejapa’s ‘Bolas de Fuego’ is easily regarded within the top ten of the most dangerous festivals worldwide. It just goes to show that the Spanish sure know how to celebrate; even if it is at the cost of singing your eyebrows clean off.