Every January 16, in the small Spanish town of San Bartolome de Pinares, belonging to the province of Avila, the festivities are celebrated in honor of San Antonio Abad, patron saint of animals, known as Las Luminarias.
The main event of Las Luminarias consists of the propagation of large bonfires by which the " bartolos " riders and other riders who come from surrounding small towns, cross the bonfires with their horses in order to purify them and that the saint give them good health and deprived them of diseases throughout the year.
There is no written record of its beginnings, there are those who believe that it dates back to the Celtic period in the Iberian Peninsula, but it is said that it is a tradition that began in the 18th century, its origin would be located in a plague epidemic that decreased the population of horses and donkeys in the area. Precisely to protect the survivors, this purifying ritual based on fire was created, not only with a view to burning and destroying all kinds of harmful influences, but also as a supposed procurer of fertility, fecundity and, ultimately, well-being and good health for all equines, since these animals constituted a fundamental work tool at that time.
During the days of this celebration, which has evolved since the time of the " great plague ", animals, men, women and children are purified by fire and smoke. All animals are treated with care and respect and no horses is injured during the festivities.