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Festivities also include activities for children and a mobile disco

Friday 10th January 2014


The 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.

With 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.

Also 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.

The 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. Councillor 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.

San 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.


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