These fêtes or festivals probably had their origin in the Catholic practice of honoring the patron saint of the village, but are now clearly more secular than religious. “Votive” refers to the fulfillment of a vow which, in this case, would be to remain dedicated and grateful to the saint(s) who protectively watch over the respective village. No one with whom I spoke, however, was the least bit familiar with the religious aspect of Uzès’ fête votive. It really had much more to do with having a party, they said. The festivities actually commenced last Thursday, the night before the four-day even began. All the way to this last event, the last abrivado – traditional held on the Monday night.
The bull sport which came to be known as abrivado, used to take place while the manades (bull herds) were being driven from one place to another. The herders would launch their horses into a gallop and the manade would race ahead to try to get away. Hence the origin of the word abrivado (from the Provençal word abriva: accelerate, launch, precipitate). As for the bandido (bandi: deliver, set free), this used to take place when the race was over. Before the advent of cattle trucks, this was the surest way of taking the fighting bulls from the arena to the fields.
Today, abrivado and bandido have become bull sport events, which have preserved all their authenticity. The bulls that are used are not the same ones that run in the arena together with the raseteurs (participants in the game).