Have you ever thought of celebrating a festival related to death? Well, the Spanish folks in Galicia think it’s something worth celebrating. The ‘Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme’ or the ‘Festival of Near Death Experiences’ is the strange and unusual festival in Galicia, Spain, where people are carried around the village of Las Nieves in coffins.
‘Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme’ or commonly known as ‘Festival or Near Death Experiences’.
Every year on July 29
So how is this unusual fiesta celebrated?
Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme honours Las Nieves’s patron saint of resurrection – Santa Marta de Ribarteme who was the sister of Lazarus that was brought back from the dead by Jesus. The small town holds a granite church in her name.
The procession of this festival is carried out by family members of people who claim near-death experience in the past year. Once they have paraded through town, these family members carry such people to the church in coffins, where a mass is celebrated around noon (often, with many of the near-dead sitting erect in their coffins). After mass, the procession continues to the town cemetery and then back to the church. This is when a statue of Saint Martha joins the procession to the chant of ‘Virgin Santa Martha, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death’ spoken by the crowd.
Those who have passed through a near-death experience use coffins as the emblems of their transcendence to a new life here on Earth by the grace of God. A little Spanish wine makes the stories of the near-dead even more vivid. But, all in all, it’s a joyous day to celebrate life, not death.