Madrid´s Mayor Oversees The Burial Of The Sardine

Today is Ash Wednesday and the solemn “burial of the sardine” marks the close of the carnival and the beginning of the 40 days of Lent.

This year the solemn and sombre procession led by black-clad gentlemen in top hats and cloaks was met by the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, before it continued on its way along the banks of the River Manzanares to be buried by the Fuente del Pajarito (“Little Bird Fountain”), in the Casa de Campo Park.

Portrayed by painter Francisco de Goya, the first honorary member of the Brotherhood of the Burial of the Sardine ( and who was its chief organiser for many years), this mock burial may dates back many centuries – though the exact origin is lost to history.

Goya´s Burial of the Sardine

One legend has it that during the reign of Carlos III, a consignment of rotten fish arrived at the city’s markets and in response to the outrage the king published a decree ordering the burial of the fish along the banks of the River Manzanares.

Another legend has it that a wealthy local family in Madrid sent for a massive load of sardines fished off the northern coast to hold a feast for the carnival but it arrived late and off.  Rather than pay for the consignment the family had the load buried ….and a custom was born!

The procession usually starts at Plaza de San Antonio de la Florida. Later, the sardine is customarily buried in Pajarito Fountain at Plaza de las Moreras in Casa de Campo Park.


Share The Madrid Metropolitan: The only Madrid English language newspaper