The feast day of St Anthony falls on 17 January. The patron saint of animals is celebrated in two very different ways. Every year, on the night before St Anthony's Day, horses are ridden through bonfires on the streets of the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares, about 100km (62 miles) north west of Madrid. This tradition known as Las Luminarias dates back 500 years and it is believed that jumping horses through huge flames and clouds of smoke purifies them and prepares them for the year ahead.

Las Luminarias
Susana Vera/Reuters
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
Susana Vera/Reuters
Las Luminarias
Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
A man holding a child rides a horse through the flamesSusana Vera/Reuters
Las Luminarias
A man rides a horse past a statue of Eloy Gonzalo Garcia, also known as the hero of Cascorro, a Spanish war hero who served in the Cuban war of independence (1895 to 1898)Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The village is filled with the smell of smoke and the sounds of hooves clattering on cobblestoned streets, whinnying of terrified horses and the occasional thud as a rider falls off a horse that refuses to jump through fire. The official festivities finish around midnight, but the party carries on until dawn, with the bonfires becoming huge barbecues.

Las Luminarias
A horse falls near a bonfirePierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP
Las Luminarias
A woman falls off a horse as she and a man ride their horses through the flamesPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP
Las Luminarias
Susana Vera/Reuters
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Las Luminarias
A man rides a donkey past a bonfirePablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Exposing horses to open flames may seem an odd way to celebrate the patron saint of animals. Thankfully, the other way of marking the feast day of Saint Anthony the Abbot (San Anton or San Antonio Abad) is far less dangerous. Pet owners take their beloved animals to a church to be blessed. Priests use holy water to bless all creatures great and small – mostly pet dogs, but also birds, mice, turtles, etc. This tradition is also followed in other Catholic countries such as Mexico and the Philippines.

San Anton
A priest blesses a dog to mark San Anton Abad's Day (Saint Anthony, patron saint of animals), in Churriana, near MalagaJorge Guerrero/AFP
San Anton
A child takes his pet flying squirrels to be blessedJorge Guerrero/AFP
San Anton
Jorge Guerrero/AFP
San Anton
Jorge Guerrero/AFP
San Anton
Jorge Guerrero/AFP
San Anton
A priest blesses dogs outside San Lorenzo church in Ciudad Juarez, MexicoJose Luis Gonzalez
San Anton
A woman holds a dog and a certificate of benedictionJose Luis Gonzalez
San Anton
Jose Luis Gonzalez
San Anton
Jose Luis Gonzalez