Events & Festivals

Five Ancient Traditions That Spell Animal Cruelty

Even though the vast majority of civilized citizens believe sadistic and barbaric customs that involve the humiliation or killing of animals, have no place in the modern world, there are those that claim they are ancient traditions, part of centuries old cultures, that shouldn’t be banned.

Here are five cruel traditions that are still practiced today:

5. The Running of the Bulls

Running of the Bulls

Running of the Bulls

Held in many towns across Spain, the most famous Running of the Bulls takes place in Pamplona, during the 9-day-festival of San Fermin. People basically run in front of a heard of bulls across an 800-meter course, from their stable to the bullfighting arena, risking injury and at the same time hurting and humiliating the animals.

The bulls are bred in the countryside and are not accustomed to the noisy streets of Pamplona, especially during this festival. Not to mention they are kept in dark enclosures until they are released on the alleys and prodded with electric shocks, which temporarily blind them and makes them terrified. The “runners” humiliate the disoriented bulls by dancing in front of them, taunting them and hitting them with rolled-up papers.

The people that take part in the Running of the Bulls risk injuries, but the bulls themselves also hurt themselves very often because their hooves have almost no grip on the paved streets.

4. Horse Fights

Horse Fight

Horse Fight

This kind of fight has been banned almost worldwide, but it still draws huge crowds in Asian countries like The Philippines, Indonesia, China and South Korea. People gather to witness, the blood, gore and intensity of the horse fights.

Held in small villages and large cities alike, Horse Fighting is regarded as a national sport and owning the winning horse is considered a great honor. Horses are usually bred specifically for fights, but some promoters buy big, strong horses and train them for this kind of activity.

A mare in heat is presented to two stallions and then removed. If one of them doesn’t immediately engage in a fight for her, it is whipped into a state of rage, until it’s ready to fight. The two animals bite and kick each other until one of them runs away or until it’s incapacitated or killed.

The losing horse is considered weak and it will be either pitted against an even stronger opponent and killed or simply butchered in front of the spectators and a barbecue is held to feed the crowd.

3. The Shearing of the Beasts

Shearing of the Beasts

Shearing of the Beasts

Believed to date back to the Bronze Age, La Rapa Das Bestas, as the Spanish call it, is a Galician festival held in villages such as Sabucedo.

Wild horses are rounded up from the surrounding hillside and guided into an enclosed arena, where men and women wrestle the horses trying to pin them down long enough to brand them and cut off their tails.

The participants and local authorities say the horses aren’t mistreated or killed, but I would imagine being slammed to the floor and getting branded with a hot iron isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world.

The Shearing of the Beasts takes place in the months of July and August, so if you want to witness this event first-hand, be sure to travel to Spain during these months.

2. Grindadrap



A tradition of The Faeroe Islands, Grindadrap is a tradition that goes back to the 10th century and it involves the killing of pilot whales that swim in the area.

Modern technology has made this ancient hunt a lot easier, the first ship that spots a pack of pilot whales approaching the coast, radios the other ships and together they form a half-circle, driving the whales into “The Bay of Blood”. This is where the alerted islanders rush into the water armed with special 7-inches-long knives called “grindknivers”, which they use to cut the animals’ carotid artery and jugular.

The carcasses are then dragged to shore, butchered and the meat and blubber shared among the inhabitants, with those who actually participated in the hunt, grabbing the biggest pieces.

It has been discovered that pilot whale meat contains a high amount of mercury and the Faeroese have been advised to consume it only once a week.

1. Spanish Bullfighting



Bullfighting is a very important part of Spain’s culture and it can be traced back to 710 A.D., when it was purely an aristocracy sport, performed on horseback. King Felipe V, banned the aristocracy from performing in bullfights considering it a bad example for the public. After that, the commoners adopted bullfighting as a sport of their own and started practicing it on foot, as they could not afford horses.

The fight begins when the bull is released into the arena. Then the matador’s assistant starts taunting the bull with a yellow and magenta cape, to let the matador determine the bull’s qualities and weaknesses. After that a group of fighters step into the arena and start placing spears in the back of the animal to weaken it. Now the matador himself engages in the fight for the final blow, the estocada, which is meant to bring the bull to its knees. This is performed with a thin, sharp blade, placed between the bull’s shoulder-blades. If the estocada fails he uses a shorter blade to sever the bull’s spinal cord and render it powerless and finish the fight.

As the crowd cheers, the matador is allowed to take a trophy from his victim, usually an ear, the tail or the hooves. The bull is still alive when this is done and after that it is dragged away through the sand.

Bullfighting is very popular in Spain with more than a million people filling the arenas throughout the year.

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

4 Comments for "Five Ancient Traditions That Spell Animal Cruelty"

Hotel Discount Expert says on October 23rd, 2008 at 5:53 pm:

bit scary i think :-)

anne pike says on September 6th, 2009 at 9:38 am:

All these so called sports are disgusting and anyone who takes part or enjoys them should be ashamed to call themselves humans.

helloimnotcruellikesyou says on February 16th, 2010 at 11:55 pm:

Its there traditions leave them alone if you don’t like it keep that to yourself we do not need to hear these rude remarks and I am proud to call myself Spanish and if you don’t respect that then i don’t respect your culture and beliefs because right now I do!


  1. Cruelty trumps tradition « Stewartry

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