Toledo village celebrates geese decapitating festival

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Jose-Maria Moreno Garcia/Flickr
The festival at the town square in El Carpio de Tajo

THE village of El Carpio de Tajo, Toledo, played host to an ancient festival in which horse riders rip the heads off dead geese suspended from a wire.

The St. James Festival began as a military training exercise when the Spanish fought to liberate their country from Muslim conquerors in the Middle Ages.

In previous years, horsemen would compete to decapitate a live goose in front of applauding crowds. After coming under fire from animal rights groups the practice of using live geese ceased.

However, the animal charity ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) have called for the “macabre festival” to be banned.

“The birds used for this cruel form of entertainment are slaughtered far short of their natural lifespan,” PETA denounced in an official statement.

“When a rider manages to decapitate a goose, this is seen as cause for celebration, as it is thought to bring ‘honour and joy’ to the rider’s family,” it added. 

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