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This botafumeiro business.

Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I was about to post on a current thread by @Huffnmeyer, but he/she was asking a very specific question and I don't want to derail it.
It intrigues me that frequently members on the forum decry the strong impulse that many pilgrims have to witness and to record the botafumeiro event on their phones. I confess that on all my arrivals in Santiago I have succumbed to this. When you look around the cathedral during the swinging, it seems that a large proportion of the congregation present do this. Is this so hard to understand? It is a unique and spectacular event. If the priest merely incensed the people with a "normal" thurible, no-one would be reaching for their phone. I think it is fair to say that many of us see the botafumeiro as a sort of "sensory hit" that effectively concludes our pilgrimage. When I arrive in Santiago I always stay for three days, and attend every mass until I see it. Maybe I'm just lucky, but it has worked every time. And let me say, I do see it. I don't view it on my screen. I aim the camera, hold it still and hope for the best. Why? I'm not sure. Why take any photos of the camino? There are millions on the net, and as Henry says, many probably better than any you can take. I guess we want to preserve our presence in the moment.
Here's a still from a video I took as the botafumeiro wizzed by, in and out of the frame. I was there!
Botafumeiro.jpeg
Just looking at the picture now, I notice that almost everyone is actually NOT pointing their phones. Hmmmm....
Ah well... bring on the flak.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Here's a still from a video I took as the botafumeiro wizzed by, in and out of the frame. I was there! Just looking at the picture now, I notice that almost everyone is actually NOT pointing their phones. Hmmmm.... Ah well... bring on the flak.
@Peregrinopaul, that is somewhat surprising. In which year did you take the video?

I am a convert: From initially being absolutely enraged when I first heard that people take photos and videos to now seeing it the way you do: Let them. It's not so hard to understand.

A large number of people (and that includes the occasional co-celebrants) appear to take a photo or a short sequence and then put their mobile phones away to watch.
 
Last edited:

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I was about to post on a current thread by @Huffnmeyer, but he/she was asking a very specific question and I don't want to derail it.
It intrigues me that frequently members on the forum decry the strong impulse that many pilgrims have to witness and to record the botafumeiro event on their phones. I confess that on all my arrivals in Santiago I have succumbed to this. When you look around the cathedral during the swinging, it seems that a large proportion of the congregation present do this. Is this so hard to understand? It is a unique and spectacular event. If the priest merely incensed the people with a "normal" thurible, no-one would be reaching for their phone. I think it is fair to say that many of us see the botafumeiro as a sort of "sensory hit" that effectively concludes our pilgrimage. When I arrive in Santiago I always stay for three days, and attend every mass until I see it. Maybe I'm just lucky, but it has worked every time. And let me say, I do see it. I don't view it on my screen. I aim the camera, hold it still and hope for the best. Why? I'm not sure. Why take any photos of the camino? There are millions on the net, and as Henry says, many probably better than any you can take. I guess we want to preserve our presence in the moment.
Here's a still from a video I took as the botafumeiro wizzed by, in and out of the frame. I was there!
View attachment 137019
Just looking at the picture now, I notice that almost everyone is actually NOT pointing their phones. Hmmmm....
Ah well... bring on the flak.
You have a very good point there. Whatever else it may be, the swinging of the botafumeiro is undeniably a spectacle so why object if people film it?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
It's definitely theater.
Is this so hard to understand?
No. But I'd much rather be 100% there, rather than trying to capture it for later - it just means you have to let it go when it's done. That's just me. If others want to miss that total immersion in awe, it's their loss.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
It's definitely theater.

No. But I'd much rather be 100% there, rather than trying to capture it for later - it just means you have to let it go when it's done. That's just me. If others want to miss that total immersion in awe, it's their loss.
I entirely agree. If people want to live their lives staring at a phone or missing the actual experience by spending the time recording it; that’s their decision. I know the two aren’t mutually exclusive and it’s possible to do both simultaneously to a degree.

It makes me feel sad, but only momentarily. I hope I don’t come across as judgemental; I’m quite libertarian really.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
1989
It's definitely theater.

No. But I'd much rather be 100% there, rather than trying to capture it for later - it just means you have to let it go when it's done. That's just me. If others want to miss that total immersion in awe, it's their loss.
Of course, you can have the best of both worlds. Take the photos or video on your first or second Camino and just be in the moment for the subsequent Caminos you'll be inspired to walk. That way you have the pictures or video to preserve the event to look back upon when at home, but have plenty of "in the moment" experiences. After all, how many different videos do you need of the ceremony? They will all look much the same.

Of course, by the same token you can just be in the moment for all of your experiences and just use others photos or videos to remember. How different will they be from what you would have taken? But there is a certain je ne sais quoi about recordings you have made yourself.
 
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Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I have only seen the botafumeiro swing once and I was pretty excited to finally get to witness it after a couple of days in Santiago on two different occasions. I took one or two quick pictures and I never take videos of anything.
I felt I had a near total immersion in awe; it was no loss for me. Why judge the 90ish% of the crowd trying to capture the experience their own way. Even if it's unfortunate in certain situations, cell phone/camera use has become a way of life; no getting around it.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
The incense really makes me sneeze and cough, so I am happy it has never swung when I was there.

I guess I wouldn't take a photo during any religion's worship service. Maybe after at a wedding or baptism? Just doesn't seem right for me, but I don't take that many pictures anyway.
 

AidaYYC

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino Frances
I was about to post on a current thread by @Huffnmeyer, but he/she was asking a very specific question and I don't want to derail it.
It intrigues me that frequently members on the forum decry the strong impulse that many pilgrims have to witness and to record the botafumeiro event on their phones. I confess that on all my arrivals in Santiago I have succumbed to this. When you look around the cathedral during the swinging, it seems that a large proportion of the congregation present do this. Is this so hard to understand? It is a unique and spectacular event. If the priest merely incensed the people with a "normal" thurible, no-one would be reaching for their phone. I think it is fair to say that many of us see the botafumeiro as a sort of "sensory hit" that effectively concludes our pilgrimage. When I arrive in Santiago I always stay for three days, and attend every mass until I see it. Maybe I'm just lucky, but it has worked every time. And let me say, I do see it. I don't view it on my screen. I aim the camera, hold it still and hope for the best. Why? I'm not sure. Why take any photos of the camino? There are millions on the net, and as Henry says, many probably better than any you can take. I guess we want to preserve our presence in the moment.
Here's a still from a video I took as the botafumeiro wizzed by, in and out of the frame. I was there!
View attachment 137019
Just looking at the picture now, I notice that almost everyone is actually NOT pointing their phones. Hmmmm....
Ah well... bring on the flak.
It's good to have a memento of the ocassion.
 
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Tickbush

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2022
I was about to post on a current thread by @Huffnmeyer, but he/she was asking a very specific question and I don't want to derail it.
It intrigues me that frequently members on the forum decry the strong impulse that many pilgrims have to witness and to record the botafumeiro event on their phones. I confess that on all my arrivals in Santiago I have succumbed to this. When you look around the cathedral during the swinging, it seems that a large proportion of the congregation present do this. Is this so hard to understand? It is a unique and spectacular event. If the priest merely incensed the people with a "normal" thurible, no-one would be reaching for their phone. I think it is fair to say that many of us see the botafumeiro as a sort of "sensory hit" that effectively concludes our pilgrimage. When I arrive in Santiago I always stay for three days, and attend every mass until I see it. Maybe I'm just lucky, but it has worked every time. And let me say, I do see it. I don't view it on my screen. I aim the camera, hold it still and hope for the best. Why? I'm not sure. Why take any photos of the camino? There are millions on the net, and as Henry says, many probably better than any you can take. I guess we want to preserve our presence in the moment.
Here's a still from a video I took as the botafumeiro wizzed by, in and out of the frame. I was there!
View attachment 137019
Just looking at the picture now, I notice that almost everyone is actually NOT pointing their phones. Hmmmm....
Ah well... bring on the flak.
The problem, as I see it, is not that people are photographing, but that they're holding their phones up high to do it. Other people, especially short folks like myself, can't get a good view, because they're having the view blocked by a sea of arms. It's very rude to subject others to a restricted view. I have found this to be a problem at most concerts these days.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The announcer pre mass asks attendees not to photograph / video during mass. The Botafumeiro actually swings when the mass has ended.
I happened to watch the live broadcast of the midday mass on the 1st of November this year when the Botafumeiro swings at the beginning of the event and not at the end. It swings while a small procession is going on and bishop and priests have not yet reached the altar. The announcement on that day was explicit and clear: No camera or video when mass has started. I took this to mean that taking photos and videos of the Botafumeiro is tolerated by the Cathedral.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
My modus operandi has been to take my place about 45mins before the start of mass and position myself next to one of the columns, so that I have a clear view. This gentleman considerately hopped over the rope barrier right up to the altar rail just as the swinging began. He has a long lens on his camera, so I cannot imagine what the resulting video looked like as he twisted and turned, following the botafumeiro in, I assume, tight close-up! I was watching the action, just holding my phone stationary at chest height and was rewarded with a 2 minute video of his antics.
IMG_4047.jpeg
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
The problem, as I see it, is not that people are photographing, but that they're holding their phones up high to do it. Other people, especially short folks like myself, can't get a good view, because they're having the view blocked by a sea of arms. It's very rude to subject others to a restricted view. I have found this to be a problem at most concerts these days.
I totally agree with you.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I never plan on going to a mass when it swings but I have been fortunate and have seen it swing at least 6-7 times by chance. On my most recent Camino this year I saw it twice. I don't video it. I'd rather just soak it in my memory.
Despite it's regularity it is always special and I always see pilgrims quite emotional upon seeing it.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
It is quite easy to avoid people holding up their cameras for the Botafumeiro at the pilgrim mass. Go to the 7:30 am pilgrim mass on a Saturday in November. No swinging, you can have a whole pew to yourself with excellent view all around you, you share the transept with only 4 other people, there is no distraction, you can concentrate on the essence of the mass, it is over after 27 minutes, and you can continue your Camino home or to Fisterra.

Misa del Peregrino, 7:30-7:57 am, Saturday, 19 November 2022: PM 2022-11-10.jpg
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 via Camino Frances
How many times have I been shown "Here's a picture... it really doesn't do it justice... you really had to be there..."
or some variation of that? Sometimes you have to be there.

In the scheme of things it's not a big deal, but for the sake of the thread and to learn about how others view the world I toss it out there.

Peace.
 
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2022 via Camino Frances
Of course, you can have the best of both worlds. Take the photos or video on your first or second Camino and just be in the moment for the subsequent Caminos you'll be inspired to walk. That way you have the pictures or video to preserve the event to look back upon when at home, but have plenty of "in the moment" experiences. After all, how many different videos do you need of the ceremony? They will all look much the same.

Of course, by the same token you can just be in the moment for all of your experiences and just use others photos or videos to remember. How different will they be from what you would have taken? But there is a certain je ne sais quoi about recordings you have made yourself.
For me the issue isn't how many camino's one walks, or that one could walk another for a different experience and therefor another opportunity for a picture of the botafumeiro, but the the essence of the moment itself captured in the living memory without the visual static of the people holding up their cameras (is that a run-on sentence?) That and we are many times asked not to do it.
 

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