Residents in the town of Nejapa in El Salvador have been commemorating a volcanic eruption in 1658 which destroyed the town by hurling fireballs at each other.
Yes, that’s right. Residents take to the streets with gasoline-soaked rags and hurl them at one another.
Check it out.
If you like this video, go to YouTube. There are many more. Each is equally terrifying.
The annual event has been a tradition since 1922, and the fireballs are said to represent the local Christian saint, Jeronimo, fighting the devil inside the volcano with his own balls of fire.
Is it culturally insensitive for me to say that this is a very stupid tradition?
I understand that lots of traditions are kind of stupid in that they are illogical, inane, or represent some truth from hundreds or thousands of years ago that is no longer the case. When viewed objectively, many traditions - both religious and cultural - make little sense.
I get that.
But when you’re throwing fire at another human being and allowing fire to be hurled at you, I think we’ve move beyond the realm of quaint or outdated or nonsensical and into the realm of epically, historically, supremely stupid.
If that makes me culturally insensitive, so be it.
Then again, I also stand firmly against the traditions of female genital mutilation, cannibalism, bullfighting, and all traditionally patriarchal institutions and customs of any kind (I’m looking at you, Catholic Church amongst many others).
Also two stupid traditions that I have written about before:
Spain’s baby jumping and Vrontados’ Rouketopolemos, the tradition in which two rival church congregations in the town perform a "rocket war" by firing tens of thousands of home-made rockets across town, with the objective of hitting the bell tower of the rival church
All of those traditions are epically stupid, too. Far stupider and more dangerous and destructive than most.
I don’t think it’s culturally insensitive to identify certain traditions and customs as stupider than others, and I’d like to think that fireball throwing makes that list.