The Sardine procession, celebrated in Spain is a centuries-old tradition that marks the end of the Spanish carnival season, welcoming the beginning of Lent. Celebrated on Ash Wednesday, the Burial of the Sardine – the procession's official title – involves "mourners" who carry a mock sardine through the streets. The fish represents the excesses of the festival and once buried, these excesses are considered destroyed.

The funeral parade is held through the heart of the old Castizo in Madrid, with the participants enjoying the wines and tapas of local taverns of which they pass, before reaching the burial ground where they light torches and bury the sardine.

The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' sing and dance outside a tavern during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' past by El Arco de Cuchilleros during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
Madrid's Mayor Carmena Manuela laughs with a member of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' during a reception for the ''Burial of the Sardine'' procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' march through old Madrid during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images

The tradition began in Madrid in the 18th century, around the time of the reign of Spanish King Carlos III, although it was made famous by Francisco de Goya's painting El Entierro de la Sardina. His painting depicts masked revellers dancing their way to the banks of Mazanares, where the ceremonial sardine is buried. Although the oil painting's exact date is unknown, it is usually said to have been completed during the 1810s.

The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' pass by a restaurent during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
A member of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' wears pins depicting sardines during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
A member of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' takes a rest during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' dance in Mayor square during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
Members of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' enjoys a bottle of white wine at a local tevern during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
Members of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' enjoy tapas and red wine at a local tevern during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' mourn during their procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' carry a coffin containing an artificial sardine during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
Women mourn the death of the sardine during the ''Burial of the Sardine'' procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
Members of the Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' enjoy tpas and red wine at a local tevern during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
El Entierro de La Sardina by Francisco Goya, 1810s
The Burial of the Sardine
Mourners weep for the dead sardine during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
People take part in the "The Burial of the Sardine" funeral procession, which marks the end of carnival festivities, in Madrid, SpainJuan Medina/ Reuters
The Burial of the Sardine
Carnival revellers dressed up as mourners take part in the "The Burial of the Sardine" funeral procession, which marks the end of carnival festivities, in Madrid, SpainJuan Medina/ Reuters
The Burial of the Sardine
People take part in the "The Burial of the Sardine" funeral procession, which marks the end of carnival festivities, in Madrid, SpainJuan Medina/ Reuters
The Burial of the Sardine
A member of the brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' holds a torch during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' carry a coffin containing an artificial sardine during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
The Brotherhood of the ''Burial of the Sardine'' light torches during the Burial of the Sardine procession in Madrid, SpainDenis Doyle/ Getty Images
The Burial of the Sardine
People take part in the "The Burial of the Sardine" funeral procession, which marks the end of carnival festivities, in Madrid, SpainJuan Medina/ Reuters