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Fireballs flung to commemorate Salvadorean volcanic eruption 3 September 2009

Posted by admin in El Salvador, San Salvador, volcano culture.
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Bolas de fuego (image by Mario Pleitez, Creative Commons licensed)

In the town of Nejapa in El Salvador, to the north-east of San Salvador volcano, 31 August sees the festival of Bolas de Fuego – balls of fire. Local people paint their faces, take to the streets and joyously fling burning balls of petrol-soaked rags at each other. The BBC reports that the festival commemorates a volcanic eruption that occurred in 1922, but there was no eruption of San Salvador that year. The festival seems to have started in 1922, and perhaps marks the eruption of 1917; or it might be the 1658 eruption, which forced the evacuation of the town, that is being recalled. Local religious tradition has it that the event celebrates the refusal of the town’s patron saint San Gerónimo to be distracted from good works by the Devil, in the form of the volcano, throwing fireballs at him. Anyway, it all looks like good dangerous fun. Everybody has a good time and no-one has, as yet, been seriously hurt.

[Image of the Bolas de Fuego festival 2008 by Mario Pleitez at Flickr, reproduced here under a Creative Commons license.]

Nejapa ardió entre las bolas de fuego – elsalvador.com, 31 August 2009
Una batalla de luces enciende el cielo nejapenseDiario CoLatino, 1 September 2009
Fireballs hurled in El Salvador – BBC News, 2 September 2009 (with video)

The Volcanism Blog