Through the fire

In San Bartolom√© de Pinares, Spain, residents celebrate the eve of St. Anthony’s Day with the Luminarias Festival. St. Anthony is the patron saint of domestic animals. One of the traditions of the festival involves riding or jumping horses through bonfires, which is believed to purify the animal and protect it in the year ahead. Townspeople say the practice dates back at least 500 years, coming from a time when smoke was thought to ward off the plague. Animal rights groups say the practice is cruel and barbaric, but the city government claims that no horse has ever suffered injury. 
Reblogged from National Geographic