The burial of the sardine in Tossa de Mar
Burying the sardine is a tradition which is spread not only over Catalonia, but is found all over Spain. On the Ash Wednesday the carnival, symbolizes by a sardine, is carried to grave.
The real rite which led to the burial of the sardine goes back to the pre-Christian time and has its place in mythology. This original event is not only about the end of the carnival and the beginning of the Lent but is particularly about the fact that spring awakes and brings a new year of life to nature.
While the original event was first of all about the element fire and later, with the Christianisation, people buried meat, and this not only symbolically, the burial of the sardine in the actual sense goes only back to the 19th century. It was celebrated for the first time in Madrid, even if the "burial of the sardine" also a symbol for Franco's death in 1977 is was probably more famous than the origin of the real event.
Anyhow, in the 19th century the students of Madrid met in front of the Farmacia de San Antón and organized a procession, at the head of it they beard a sardine which symbolized the coming abstinence and the beginning of the Lent. By this happening throughout the city they wanted to celebrate the carnival for one last time. This day probably no one thought that this move could spread all over Spain and become a tradition.
However, why a sardine? Originally it was meat that was buried and which represented the sin and symbolized the excesses during the carnival. The word sardine is probably only a wrong transmission of the word in the course of the centuries, because the meat came from cerdo which means pork and often was called "cerdina" (spoken serdina) and cerdina, finally, became sardina.
The burial of the sardine is very differently celebrated all over Spain and has become, for example in Murcia, a very important event, which attracts thousands of visitors and is actually an important cultural event of the city. In Tossa the tradition of the sardine's burial is celebrated in a closer circle and the event attracts first of all the participants of the carnival and first of all the children of Tossa de Mar.
In Tossa de Mar the oversized sardine is carried through the town by children who walk first in a carnival procession which begins at the Casa de Cultura. Most of the children who bare the sardine are dressed up as a skeleton. This last carnival procession takes the sardine to the Passeg de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer where, finally, the artificial fish is publicly burned in a last carnival feast. At the end of the feast the participants are invited to a free chocolate drink, the Xocolatada, with which the beginning of the Lent becomes a little bit sweeter.