Offering of the Bulls

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / Offering of the Bulls

In the town of San Juan Bautista de Bayaguana, known simply as Bayaguana, in the Dominican Republic is held an exceptionally unique festival. The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana, also known as the Festival of the Bulls, the traditional cattle festival in Bayaguana. The festivities start on December 28 with the arrival of the bulls and end on January 1st with the offering of the bulls.

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / Offering of the Bulls - Bringing the bulls to town.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / Offering of the Bulls – Bringing the bulls to town.

This tradition started when, during a long drought, the cattle were dying. The crops and fruit were drying up. So, in desperation, the people of the area offered a bull to Santo Cristo in exchange for rains to fall. After a few days passed the rains did return as usual and all was saved. Thus the tradition began.

The Festival El Santo Cristo Bayaguana Today

A few weeks before the festival the Commissioners of Santo Cristo de los Milagros go around the region collecting bulls. These are offerings from the believers as an expression of thanks for the favors bestowed on them that year and to signify their faith and devotion.

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / Offering of the Bulls - The Vaqueros - Cowboys and their horses are bringing the bulls to town.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana / Offering of the Bulls – The Vaqueros – Cowboys and their horses are bringing the bulls to town.

At dawn on the 28 of December the horseback riders the Vaqueros, bull wranglers, Commissioners and the faithful enter the town square with their bulls in tow. Here is held a consecration ceremony displaying the solemnity of their faith.

This procession is not a silent one, just the opposite. It is led by the Banda Municipal de Música. There are songs, prayers, dancing, and even fireworks. All transpiring while the bulls are led to a coral in the center of town where the bulls are held for the 4-day festival. These bulls are penned, waiting for the 4th day, January 1st, when they will be sold or “offered”.

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - People singing and chanting Cantos de Toros.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – People singing and chanting Cantos de Toros.

The people gathered for the festival, including the people wanting to purchase these sacrificial bulls, are all in a joyful spirit. Sancocho is served and liquids imbibed such as rum, jengibre and coffee. The night is passed singing and chanting Cantos de Toros/ Songs of the Bulls and Salves. These songs are improvised verse and poetry sung a cappella. The singing is done in a round, with alternate soloists taking the lead while all the people gathered joining in like a choir. There is a real party spirit, much commotion and fireworks.

Come January 1st the people begin arriving from throughout the country to participate in the masses and offerings to Santo Christ. After eating the faithful gather at the altar and, in a very solemn ceremony, they ask for and are also thankful for, things and promises granted by the Santo Cristo for the past year and the year to come. This as a very inspirational and somber act.

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - The bulls are coming into town.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – The bulls are coming into town.

After this ceremony the commissioners, nuns, priests and believers go to the corral where the bulls are kept to hold the sale. The money coming from the sale of these offered bulls will be used by the Catholic Church for good works.

This festival has been occurring for more than 400 years. These observances began with the foundation of the town of Bayaguana in 1604, during the Spanish colonization

The Miracles

It is said that there were several miracles attributed to Santo Cristo de los Milagros that are recognized during this festival:

*The image of the Son of God appeared to a little girl and the sight of her blind mother was immediately restored.

*A paralyzed man, wanting to participate in the festival stood and walked.

*On this day in 1924, when the North American troops left Santo Domingo, the church bells rang by themselves.

The rest of the pictures that I collected:

The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - Children and adults arrive on horseback.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – Children and adults arrive on horseback.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - More bulls are arriving.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – More bulls are arriving.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - Vaqueros arriving on horseback.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – Vaqueros arriving on horseback.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - There are some Cowgirls coming into town
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – There are some Cowgirls coming into town
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - People entering the festival singing and chanting Cantos de Toros
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – People entering the festival singing and chanting Cantos de Toros
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana - People in the streets coming in for the festivities.
The Festival El Santo Cristo de Bayaguana – People in the streets coming in for the festivities.

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