The Popular "Sanmiguelada", Tradition in Mexico

San Miguel Allende, in the State of Guanajuato, has been celebrating since 1973 the now deeply-rooted tradition Sanmiguelada. Held on the third Saturday of every September, it has been gathering more than 50 thousand national and foreign tourists every time for the last three decades.

It is a running of bulls through the city’s streets, imitating Spain’s Pamplonada. Most of the attendees are young and start celebrating the night before. Gathering at this “magic town”, different nationalities and cultures come together through the beautiful streets of this colonial city.

On the Saturday that falls between Mexico’s Independence Day and the festival of the city’s patron saint, San Miguel Arcangel, the city exchanges its usual tranquility for the emotion of Sanmiguelada. The streets surrounding downtown’s main garden are closed to show the bulls the way. First aid centers are set up as spectators take their places.

Tension keeps rising to climax with a thunder upon the signal to start. The bulls then come charging through the narrow cobble stone paths. These wild animals have not been domesticated and run in a savage stampede because they have been locked up for too long. While the bulls take charge, the intrepid jump in their way and also, unfortunately, the names on the blackboard, announcing the wounded. Everyone at the Sanmiguelada continues celebrating throughout the night, while singing and dancing to live mariachi bands, they drink tequila and beer.

Besides promoting Mexico’s cultural traditions, this celebration generates great profits for the region. However, Mayor Jesus Correa has decided to suspend the celebration arguing that it is not linked to Mexican traditions, it requires an extraordinary expense for restoring historic buildings and exceeds the city’s safety capacity.

There is a plan to continue the tradition of gathering at San Miguel every September, but the bulls have been substituted with a horse exhibit and orchestras. Many support this measure, arguing that the Sanmiguelada was a party without boundaries. Others fight to preserve this tradition, appealing to the five or six million dollar income the city received on those two days.

Although the Association of Hotels and Motels of San Miguel de Allende is against this cancelation for the great income loss, the Tourism Council has supported this decision.

The damage done during the last celebration prompted organizers to cancel future Sanmigueladas, includes a fight that almost broke out with guns among the attendees and the three million pesos invested in repairing the gardens and facades of many buildings harmed.

The strongest reason to abolish this celebration, famous for its destruction and savage behavior, is found in the naming this city received July 2008 at Montreal. In a solemn act, UNESCO recognized San Miguel de Allende as World Heritage in the Cultural Good category, classified as Historical City. With this inclusion, Mexico now has 10 historical cities with such a distinction, the country with the greatest number of cultural goods. To be included in this list carries a great preservation responsibility, so to celebrate the Sanmiguelada again would be gravely impertinent.

Artículo Producido por el Equipo Editorial Explorando México.
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Foto Portada: Esparta