Festival of Near Death, Spain

Jan 18th 2013
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Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme

This is another one of Spain’s strange festivals that celebrates the lucky few who have narrowly escaped death. Those who have had a near death experience in the past year climb in coffins and are carried to the church of Santa Marta de Ribarteme ►which honors Mary Magdalene’s sister who is the saint of resurrection.

This is a wild festival where religion is mixed and life clashes with death. Those who have seen the light crowd surf in coffins through streets to a cemetery and back to the church. It is held in As Neves, Galicia which is close to the final destination of the Camino de Santiago.

It’s better to show up with your family as they will carry you through the crowd. If you show up solo you must carry your own coffin, which probably isn’t quite the same. The procession begins in the streets leading to the small granite church. Then the procession continues to the graveyard where people chant “Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death.”

The atmosphere is the Spanish equivalent of Yin and Yang. On one hand it’s somber and reflective of a powerful experience. Then there’s the gypsy brass bands, roasted octopus (pulpo) and fireworks. The whole experience is a mix of religious, culture and collective experience - one not to miss, if you dare.

Month July
CategoriesCultural Events, Europe, Religious Celebrations, Spain, Weird & Quirky
Adult PriceFree
Price detailsFree
DatesAround July 29th every year