A Pair of Fiery Festivals

In the past couple of days, festivals were held in two villages separated by language, culture, religion, and great distance, but both centered on the use of fire as a method of purification and blessing—and both were carried out with a liberal partaking in alcohol. In San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, on the eve of Saint Anthony's Day—to honor Spain's patron saint of animals—people ride horses through bonfires during the “Luminarias,” a centuries-old tradition meant to to purify and protect the animals. In Nozawaonsen, Japan, village men of the unlucky ages of 25 and 42 stage a fiery battle, with one group building and protecting a wooden shrine, and another trying to burn it down with bundles of flaming sticks. The festival is meant to chase out evil spirits, celebrate first births, and pray for happy marriages.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Joan Mateu Parra / AP

    Photos of the Week: Lightning Rod, Crown Fountain, Lunar Transit

    Surfing at a water park in Italy, Ivan Kupala day in Russia, a robotic rover on Mount Etna, a Pride parade in Mexico City, National Paddy Day in Nepal, and much more

  • NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

    The Dust Devils of Mars

    Beautiful images from another world, of a delicate, ephemeral phenomenon

  • Leon Neal / Getty

    Scenes From Glastonbury 2022

    Images from this year’s Glastonbury Festival—back after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus

  • Peter Zay / Anadolu Agency / Getty

    Photos: Protests Against the Overturning of Roe

    Images of protest from Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Raleigh, St. Louis, Portland, New York, Nashville, and many other locations