Reub's journey

24 February 2012

Burying the sardine

The name of this painting by Goya is "The Burial of the Sardine," a Spanish tradition commemorating the end of festivities before Lent, which starts today.

Every year as a child I watched my Catholic friends go through Lent, a period of self-sacrifice. In the northern Midwest they didn't even get to celebrate Carnival or Mardi Gras beforehand. There were just these dull conversations:

A: What are you giving up for Lent?
B: Candy.
A: Me too.
B: It's not so bad. I hardly ever have it anyway.
A: Yeah, me neither.

It seemed similar to New Year's resolutions, although generally more negative, with the emphasis on giving-up rather than getting-a-fresh-start. But Carnival? Now that is something enviable. What a party, worth all of the self-denial afterward! Too bad they don't celebrate like that in Wisconsin; is it just too cold, or what?

Photo: Denis Doyle, Getty images
This is a contemporary picture of "The Burial of the Sardine," from Madrid, where the ceremony is still carried out.

Here in Oregon, we're a bit turned around. The beginning of Lent coincides with the Portland Jazz Festival, and that's where John and I are headed today. We'll attend 3 performances, soak up Portland, and be back on Sunday.  No burying of sardines for us, time for a celebration!


  1. Peggy would like it if I buried my sardines since she says it makes her sick to smell them or look at them--and her a nurse, no less.

  2. We are such an odd species I think.

  3. you made me laugh. that was SO the thing for lent in my Wis childhood - the 'no-candy' thing... :)

  4. I think that's what every child gives up for lent (I was raised episcopalian). I guess it justifies the candy orgy on easter.

    but burying the sardine? what's a sardine got to do with it?

  5. Have fun at the festival and come back with lots of photo to share.

  6. Hi Kerry
    Being a Indian Hindu my knowledge of Lent is limited to that it has something to do with Easter.(Because I schooled in a missionary school) So I looked up Wikipaedia and found this:
    Quote: Most followers of Western Christianity observe Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding on Holy Thursday.The six Sundays in this period are not counted because each one represents a "mini-Easter," a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death. One notable exception is the Archdiocese of Milan, which follows the Ambrosian Rite and observes Lent starting on the Sunday 6 weeks before Easter.Unquote
    Reg self denial there is a custom amongst Hindus too wherein you are expected to give up some item of food - normally you give up something you already dislike.
    Loved the contemporary "sardine" picture more than the original !
    Enjoy the Portland Jazz festival as well as the exquisite wines. Cheers ! Ram

  7. What an odd tradition.

    Enjoy your time away. I'm sure you will. :)

  8. We had a great time in Portland, and to my delight I found your comments upon my return today. I couldn't help but love it that there are not only comments from people with Christian/Jewish backgrounds as well as an aetheist, a Muslim, and a Hindu. No Buddhists though, at least not that I'm aware of.

    Snow: Yeah, sardines are really stinky, but Peggy being a nurse should overlook that, because after all, aren't sardines a super-healthy food these days?

    Tabor and Hilary: It is odd, isn't it? I became aware of it through something I read on NPR's blog last week.

    twg and Ellen: Yes, the candy thing is unoriginal for sure! And I have NO idea what sardines have to do with any of this.

    Jama: I took dozens of pics, but none of them can match your amazing photos of Singapore.

    Laoch: Are you a jazz fan? For the past 2 weeks PDX has been a great place to hear jazz. Branton Marsalis is playing tonight to wind it down.

    RR: I guess we all try to minimize our self sacrifices. I wonder what I would give up, though, since I like almost all food? And, oh yes, the wine in Portland was excellent!


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