10th January 2014
festivities in honour of San Sebastian, the patron
saint of Jávea since medieval times, have
become a more permanent and conspicuous fixture
in the fiesta calendar in recent years. In 2012, the
running with the bulls returned to the very heart of
the historic centre after a 20-year absence and proved
to be such a popular event in a month when bars and
restaurants find life quite difficult that it is returning
for a third year as part of the celebrations. The organising
committee of San Sebastian has also produced a programme
of events for the festivities which will run over the
weekend of 17th-20th January.
the assistance of the Asociación Cultural Taurina
(ACT) de Xàbia, the bull-running event (actually
heifers) will be staged in the square in front of the
Ayuntamiento and down the sets of steps into Plaça
del Baix. Events will be at 5.30pm and 10.30pm on Friday
17th January, an additional run at 12.30pm with runs
at 5.30pm and 10.30pm on Saturday 18th January
and a lunch-time run on Sunday 19th January. In addition,
there will be a run of the controversial 'bou embolat'
on Saturday night, the first time this event has been
staged during San Sebastian.
included in the programme are a series of activities
for kids. On Saturday morning at 11.00am there will
be story-telling at the Casa del Cultura before a
special running with the bulls event for youngsters
in which fit and energetic organisers will push a number
of trolleys around the square on which will be mounted
a bull's head complete with not-so-sharp horns. On Saturday
evening, another new feature will be an open-air disco
for those with the stamina to continue the celebrations
after the bull events have finished.
festivities conclude on Monday 20th January - the feast
day of San Sebastian - with a special ringing of the
church bells and a parade to visit the niches of the
saint in Carrer Mayor and Calle San Sebastian behind
the post office. This will be followed by a solemn mass.
Juan Ortolá (Fiestas) invited everyone to enjoy
the festivities and thanked the involvement of the ACT
who will be running the bull events entirely at their
own expense, albeit with the support of the town hall
in processing the permits to stage the event.
It is unclear when San
Sebastián became the patron saint of Jávea but it is almost
certainly since medieval times when the village was facing the horror of the
‘Black Death’ that was devastating the population of Europe.
The terrified people likened the random nature of infection to being shot by an
army of nature's archers and thus they sought salvation from a saint associated
with archers. The people of Jávea prayed to San Sebastián for special protection and the
village was saved from illness.
Sebastián was almost forgotten when the image of Jesús Nazarene
arrived in the mid-16th Century and supposedly protected the village from an
outbreak of cholera. (The festivities honouring the Nazarene began in 1856 and continue
to this day, starting in late April.) However the memory of San Sebastián was maintained by the devoted
few and his day was celebrated on January 20th with a simple parade to
honour his image and a special mass. And then, in 2012, the fiesta became much
more apparent with the return of the bulls to the centre
of the historic centre. Now the celebrations form an
important part of the fiesta calendar in Jávea.
He was shot with arrows which is
why his image is often depicted with arrows piercing his chest. There are two
shrines in town: one of Calle de Sebastian
behind the Correos and a second close to the bottom of Calle Major and both
depict San Sebastián’s
bodies pierced with arrows.