The festival of Santa Marta de Ribarteme, held every July in the tiny eponymous village, is an opportunity for those who have survived near-death experiences to give thanks for surviving.
Some believe the festival dates back hundreds of years, but its origins remain mysterious. According to local lore, the ritual of carrying near-death-experience survivors in coffins to give thanks was originally practised by pagans, but by the 12th Century, with the Catholic Church eager to stamp out pagan beliefs, it was forcibly incorporated into a Christian ceremony.
Since then, what was traditionally a provincial affair has morphed into an internationally renowned festival, with thousands of spectators packing the small streets of Santa Marta de Ribarteme each year.
First mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, and sister to Mary Magdalene and Lazarus, Santa Marta (or St Martha) plays only a small part in the Bible. Traditionally the patron saint of cooks, service workers and housewives, her story after the gospels continues in France, where according to legend, she helped slay a dragon, earning herself the title ‘Marta, the Dominator’. Santa Marta’s ability to triumph in that deadly situation likely led her to be linked with this particular ritual.
Women paleontologists are wearing fake beards in a fight for equality to challenge stereotypes about who works in the field and gain more recognition for their work.
It all started when one professor of paleobotany became fed up of feeling invisible.
After a male colleague was praised for an idea she had suggested just moments before, Dr. Ellen Currano wondered whether she would be listened to if she had facial hair. So she gave it a go.
Now she has inspired a new project to challenge stereotypes in the scientific community. Including an exhibition of 100 female scientists wearing fake beards, the project helps women share stories of their fight for equal pay, opportunities in the field work and promotions.
Although many countries have legislation to ensure gender equality, it will take another 108 years to close the gender gap, at current rates of progress and changing attitudes can be as difficult as changing the law.
Compiled by SG