The beginning of this celebration goes back to 1851 when after the carnival a group of students from Murcia decided to carry a coffin with a sardine inside to burn it at the end of their parade. This was the first Entierro de la Sardina. Some of those student were poet José Selgas or the the future presidents of the Murcia Casino.
It is a fiesta with a long history of more than 150 years, and it has also been celebrated in other regions of Spain. It’s a pagan celebration that represents the end of fasting and abstinence of the previous 40 days of Lent. That’s why it is a free and slightly crazy celebration in which you try to escape tradition and routine. In other areas of Spain, the sardine was thrown in the sea to ensure the celebration of carnival the following year. In Murcia, the sardine is burnt.
FIND OUT A BIT MORE
That first Entierro de la Sardina celebrated by students was a big surprise and it got a lot of attention. Many murcian writers, like journalist Martínez Tornel, wrote about it.
That year, Joaquín López wrote the following poem in Spanish (no translation possible):
“Fue tanta la algazara y el ruido,
Las risas y las voces,
que el valiente escuadrón se ha desunido.
Los burros marchan repartiendo coces;
gresca desorden broma y laberinto,
y fuertes carcajadas
y cada parecer vario y distinto,
que es preciso decir, que el cuadro, en suma,
en vano intenta retratar la pluma.
Tras de tanta apretura,
de girar en opuestas direcciones,
el escuadrón se ordena
cada cual, recobrando su apostura,
y empieza entre pendones
la cabalgata a caminar serena.
Detrás el pueblo, confundido grita,
entregado a la bulla y al mareo,
y en su loco deseo
otro grupo a la vez se precipita
por calles y por plazas,
dando en sus rostros de locura trazas,
y fuera de su centro
pues pretenden salirles al encuentro.
El pueblo allí se olvida
de penas y quehaceres.
Y el alma distraída,
mozos, ancianos, niños y mujeres,
en calles y balcones,
alegran sus fogosos corazones,
pues el brillo y color de aquella orgía,
les convida al placer y a la alegría.
No queda calle en la ciudad, ninguna
ni humilde callejuela
por donde la comparsa no se aduna
y el tropel confundido no se cuela.
Y una y otra vez, el pueblo loco
el pregón quiere oír; pídelo a voces
que escucharlo una vez lo tiene en poco.”
MOST IMPORTANT FACTS OF THE CELEBRATION
1851. A group of students from Murcia parade around town carrying a sardine to be later burned.
1854. First time they read the Bando del Casino, that will later become the Sardine’s Testament.
1860. The celebration becomes bigger and attracts the interest of companies and high class citizens that start investing in it.
1862. Thanks to Isabel II visit to Murcia, the Entierro is known all around the country.
1865. After two years not celebrating the event, it comes back stronger than ever congregating lots of people.
1866-1874. The Entierro cannot be celebrated because of the turbulence and territorial instability in the country.
1875. Citizens and traders, using the newspapers, ask for it to come back.
1876. The Sardine’s Testament is born.
1879. It is cancelled because of the Santa Teresa flood.
1881. Murcia claims more promotion and a better leading team.
1884. It is not celebrated because of a cholera outbreak. People start to question the future of the Entierro.
1899. The people that are really committed to the celebration have a meeting in Murcia townhall and create a new and motivated leading team.
1900. Murcia townhall creates some postal stamps to help with the financing of the celebration.
1903. This year, it’s a going through economic difficulties, so they create a money raising group in order to collect enough money to celebrate it.
1926. After more than 20 years without celebrating the Entierro, people ask for it to come back.
1930. A Sardinero Club is founded that is in charge of the organization and management of the celebration.
1932. The Entierro is celebrated again, but not for long.
1936. The Entierro isn’t celebrated because of the Spanish Civil War.
1942. The spring celebrations are reorganized and the parade is restored.
1945. The Town Hall decides to take over its organization and management.
1950. The Permanent Celebration Commission is created.
1960. To ensure the stability of the celebration the Sardinero Board and the Sardinero Group are created.
1967. The honours title of Gran Pez is created.
1988. The first poster is created by Ramón Gaya and the title of Doña Sardina is created.
2006. The celebration is declared of International Touristic Interest. Every year it attracts more people.
2019. A record of visitors is achieved with more than 1 million people coming to the celebration.