Los Sauces Sardine

The sardine being paraded around Los Sauces before its cremation, La Palma island
The sardine being paraded around Los Sauces before its cremation

The sardine’s funeral in Los Sauces had a Roman theme this year. As always, the bier was carried by lots of humans (rather than a lorry) and they danced it through the streets and around the square.

One of the Roman guards protecting the sardine, Los Sauces, 2012
One of the Roman guards protecting the sardine

Los Sauces has the reputation of putting on a much better sardine’s funeral than Santa Cruz, and I think it’s true. Of course it’s self-perpetuating. People make more effort to get to the funeral in Los Sauces, and spend more time dressing up. My best guess is that there were at least a thousand people taking part, yelling and whooping and wailing with wild enthusiasm. I hope to get a video onto YouTube tomorrow.

Man dressed as a belly dancer with wings
My favourite costume at the Sardine's funeral, Los Sauces, 2012

Some people go as “widows” of the sardine, but most either follow the theme-for-the-year or do something wildly creative of their own. This year there were two mobile speed-traps, complete with flashes coming from inside the box.  (I think the boxes used to contain washing machines before they were transformed into a costume.)  And Asterisk’s friend Obelisk was delivering a menhir, although I never did manage to get a photo of him.

Traditionally, there’s quite a bit of cross-dressing, and it’s socially acceptable at least for this one night.

A drag queen's platform shoes, Sardine's funeral, Los Sauces
A drag queen's platform shoes

Some of the costumes are gorgeous, and some are creative, and some are both: much better than my own, rather rushed effort.


One of the things I enjoy is that you’ve got this enormous crowd, sinking quite a bit of alcohol (except the drivers) and I’ve never heard of any violence whatsoever. People might make humourous remarks about your costume, maybe even sarcastic ones, but they’re far more likely to complement each other and take photos of each other. It’s a kind of group performance art, done by the crowd, for the crowd. Sadly, I can’t imagine it being so universally good-humoured in the UK.

At the end of the parade, as always, they pushed back the multitude, and cremated the sardine from the inside out, and set of lots and lots of fireworks.

The sardine being cremated, Los Sauces, La Palma island, 2012
The sardine being cremated, 2012

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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