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 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
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, Spain Denis Doyle/ Getty Images