The city of Tultepec in Mexico has a very unusual way of celebrating their favourite saint. They strap a whole load of rockets and fireworks to large wooden bulls and the brave young men of the city dance around them as the rockets fly all over the place!
Tultepec is the Mexico’s home of fireworks, with more fireworks makers there than you can shake a rocket stick at with about 80% of the country’s fireworks produced there since the 18th century. San Juan de Dios is the patron saint of firework makers and a week-long national pyrotechnic fair commemorates him. He is famed for rescuing patients from a burning hospital. Nowadays firework manufacturers pray to San Juan to protect their workshops and keep them safe from fire. The annual pyrotechnic fair was started in 1989 to safeguard the rich history and promote the skills of the pyrotechnicians of Mexico.
Firework “Castillo’s” or castles are fashioned in the shape of bulls and other animals in light wood. These are then covered with paper and decorated and painted. They are completely covered in fireworks and rockets and the young daredevils (madmen) jump around them and shout FIRE! FIRE! As they wear only hoods and thick jumpers to protect themselves. The bravest men will stand next to the bulls for as long as they can, it is a matter of pride to stand right next to the exploding structures. Needless to say, there are often injuries and minor burns are very common serious burns, sadly are also rather common.
It’s a bit ironic that to honour the saint who saved patients from his hospital, saved them from burning, the locals burn themselves. Surely San Juan de Dios did not like people burning? Or else he would not have saved them? This is the way of traditions however and logic is not always required.
Check the videos, say wow at the madness you see there and please please do not try any of this at home.