Mourning is a dying art on Sardine Night


It seemed quite appropriate that as the mourners fell to the floor wailing and rolling around showing off their underwear, they were just outside the Sex Boutique in Avenida Suecia, Los Cristianos. A closer look revealed that these “ladies” were in fact young men, keeping alive the tradition of leading the giant sardine through the streets to its cremation on the beach.


Just a quick history lesson, the funeral of the sardine refers to Lent, and the hypocrisy of the church, telling the masses to go without meat, while the church big wigs ate more or less what they wanted, leaving the others to make do with sardines, the plentiful local bounty of the sea. As a show of 2 fingers goes, this is one of the highlights of the Carnaval calendar, it seemed a little down on mourners this year but what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in dedication and dress sense. The parade was shadowed by a large contingent of police, to ensure that high spirits don’t get out of hand, I wonder what their instructions are? look out for any strange characters or anyone acting suspiciously? That just about covers most people present.


I can’t help feeling that the parade lost something when they switched from carrying the sardine shoulder high, to driving it along mounted on a decorated float, but to be fair, the old way took longer each year to make the short journey, and after hours of pushing through jostling bodies, the sardine usually arrived at the beach partly damaged.

Anyway, this years journey was pretty swift and well oiled, and a large enclosure had been set up on the old beach ready for the fish’s final moments. A few well placed burning torches and the fish did a passable impression of a dog, woof it went up in a blaze if fire. As the tongues of flame licked at the night sky, a barrage of fireworks was released, a fitting send off to our fishy friend.

Sardine burning