BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CALASPARRA RUNNING BULLS
The City Council of Calasparra in 1999 carried out the first bullfighting in the streets of our town. Since that year until today, the Calasparra running of bulls has been consolidated and has given rise to a week of bullfighting celebrations of great importance at the national and international level.
Making a brief review of the history of bullfights in our town, we must start with the oldest documentary news that refers to bullfights or “bull games” in Calasparra. Taking into account the oldest documents that are preserved in the Municipal Archive of Calasparra, the festivities in our town had a first antecedent with the Patronage that the Villa awarded in 1581 to San Pantaleón and it was voted that the day of their feast would be the July twenty-seventh forever and ever. However, the patronage of San Pantaleón did not last long and was replaced at the end of the 16th century by the Patronage of San Abdón and San Senén. In the Chapter Act of June 24, 1598, the Calasparra Council appointed stewards with the task of organizing the festivities in honor of the Patrons and with the authorization to collect alms destined to defray the expenses occasioned by the festivities. The festivities in honor of the Holy Martyrs Abdón and Senén took place on July 30 of each year, although this date was not fixed since the Council of Calasparra changed it some years so that it was celebrated at the end of August because In the years of good harvests, the residents of the town were very busy on the 30th of July, collecting the products of the field.
In the Chapter Act of August 3, 1608, we find the first document that refers to bullfights in our town. In that capitular act it is spoken of the agreements that the Council of Calasparra made for the celebration of parties to celebrate the arrival in our town of the Commander of Calasparra, Don Gerónimo Pimentel. Said Commander had arrived in Calasparra on July 30 and to celebrate said arrival in our town, by order of the City Council, festivals of Moors and Christians, comedies and bulls were held.
In the Chapter Act of July 25, 1617, the preparations for the festivities that were held that year are described. In that capitular act, the gentlemen of the City Council appointed commissioners for the festivities of Saints San Abdón and Senén that were to be held on July 30 for whose festival there was comedy and bullfighting. The minutes of that day is very interesting because it orders boards and barriers to be made and everything necessary for said parties, and for this they appointed the commissioners who were in charge of supplying wood and other things necessary for the party. Thus, the commissioners ordered the tablados and barriers to be made suitable for the festivities, both for the comedies and for the bulls, also ordering the removal of the wood from all the people who had it and also urging carpenters and officers to make the tablados and barriers. . The festivities with bulls took place in the Public Square, in the current Plaza de la Constitución, which was prepared as described above to celebrate these festivals.
In the capitular act of July 19, 1638, commissioners were also appointed to prepare the layout of the Plaza and streets, but the appointment of other commissioners for the conduct of the bulls and “their confinement” is also mentioned, and also It is said in said act that if the commissioners had any expenses for the disposal of the tablados, the cleaning of the Plaza, and the game of bulls, they would be given what they asked for by taking a letter of payment of the amount that was delivered.
Another very interesting information is given by the Chapter Act of August 4, 1782, in which it is said that it was customary, on the occasion of the festivities for their Patron Saints San Abdón and San Senén, to kill two or more cattle for the charity that was distributed to the poor, paid for by the mayordomos when the alms did not reach. It is also said in said act that in order to give the town some recreation, it was agreed that said cattle should run with ropes through the streets and Plaza.
Regarding the distribution of beef cattle to the poor, we have the exceptional description that Pascual Madoz related in the year 1850 in his book “Geographic – Statistical – Historical Dictionary of Spain and its overseas possessions” in which he speaks, among other things , from the feast to San Abdón and San Senén and says: “… to start this feast, a bull must run the afternoon of the previous day, which they cook in a famous kettle that they have prepared for this purpose, in which they also place of said beef, a large portion of ham, chickpeas, aubergines and pumpkins… .. at which time the mayordomos and city council, appointed by him, and the clergy, with the music that is prepared, pass on the portion of bread that they anticipate they are willing to distribute to the poor… ” .
From the second half of the 19th century we have a testimony compiled in the “Book of Festivities of Calasparra of the year 1977” in which it is said that on July 30, the day of the Holy Martyrs Abdón and Senén, all the people anxiously awaited that It is time to release the steer acquired by the butlers. This was run through the town subject to a strong and long hemp rope, to which the most agile and determined waiters took hold. People were crowded into the Plaza (the current Plaza de la Constitución) to see the spectacle of the exit of their confinement from the young bull held by the evidence of his strong fortune. The rope grooms also ran through one of the access roads to the Corredera. In this testimony it is also said that the waiters, pulling the rope, approached the steer to the fence so that the bride or fiance could put, between the rope and the stem of the steer, the classic bouquet of alábega…. ” .
The construction of the bullring in 1896 meant that the street bullfights of cattle were replaced by the gradual participation in bullfights in the bullring.