Three Rounds around the Church

26 January 2018 0 Comments Category: Barbara de Swaan, Living in Spain


Those who follow my life closely, already know that I’m a BIG dog-lover and a huge animal lover in general! My best therapy in life when I ever felt down, was laying next to my dog and just feel his heat and hear his breathing, while looking him in the eyes. Dogs are so pure and loving. Today for example, at 7 AM I was hardly awake but both of my dogs were very happy to see me and couldn’t wait to go out with me. At a certain moment, the youngest one who’s only 7 months old, decided to sit on top of me while licking my whole face and ears….. OK, it’s a bit disgusting, but boy did I enjoy it!

Last week all companion animals were standing in the spotlights in Spain. On the 17th of January, all over Spain, they celebrate Sant Antoni Abat. In every region they celebrate this saint in a different way and with different traditions varying between fattening up a pig among the whole village during a year, to eat it together on the 17th, fire parties, devils running afther children with a whipping stick (innocent, not harmfull), to “Els Tres Tombs” in Barcelona.

Sant Antoni was born 251 before Christ in Egypt and supposedly reached the age of 105. He was well known as a real animal defender, among other things.


In Barcelona on the 17th of January, and sometimes the weekend before or after that date, all the village people, with their companion animals, have to walk three rounds around the local church and  receive some holy water from a priest, in order to bless the animals and protect them from all evil during at least another year.

No, we didn’t do that, though it would had made a much better story, but this is just a tradition we prefer to watch instead of participate. And watching it was great and funny and incredible. Not only did people come with their dogs and cats, but also with rabbits, snakes, chickens, a goat and a monkey. It was a colorful and smelly event. The local horses didn’t only walk around the church but though the whole village and along the streets, local shops offered free chips and wine. No Spanish festivity without food and alcohol ofcourse and you wont hear me complaining!

Dogs 1

It’s a good thing that the Spanish people become at least once a year aware of the importance of their companion animals, because in general the Spanish still have no real animal loving culture. Unfortunately, according to a study done by the Fundación Affinity in 2015, the Spanish abandon around 137.000 animals on a yearly base! Yes, you read the number correctly, 137.000! This is extremely sad and the reason that the’re so many animal refugees in Spain. Around 10% of this number will be killed yearly. The Spanish still buy a puppy for Xmas for their loved ones, without first considering the responsibility this brings with having a dog or a cat. When summer holiday presents itself and they don’t know what to do with their dog, they simply leave him or her along the road or in the woods, where they will find a brutal death one way or the other, unless someone brings them to a refugee center


Our family doesn’t walk three times around the church, but we have adopted two amazing dogs, we regularly bring food or money to chelters and we try to motivate others to do the same. Spain is very modern in certain ways, but in other ways, they still have to come a long way.

Buying or adpoting a dog comes with certain responsibilities and one of them is to be able to financially support them when they are ill. I have taken out this great insurance that covers part of those expenses and covers in case of liability for possible demages:

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your e-mail address will not be published and required fields are marked.