While a bullfighting cruelty story is widely described in mass media and on the web, a number of aesthetic aspects of the bullfighting culture remain veiled. Many supporters of bullfighting regard the bullfighting culture as an integral part of the entire national culture and see bullfighting more as a ritual, based on an artistic impression and command. Bullfighting is a magnificently colorful spectacle, historically recorded in the Mediterranean for over three thousand years and only surviving in Spain and in some parts of Spanish-speaking America. Today, the bullfighting culture includes weekly fights, traditional annual bullfight fairs and grandiose festivals, glorifying bullfighting as both a sport and art. Indeed, the bullfighting culture is enormous, ambitious and rich. A bullfighting show is organized in a very artistic way, relating to the past of corrida.
Prior to the fight, there is a sorteo, literally meaning "a drawing of lots". On the day of the bullfight, usually at noon, the representatives of matadors or novilleros will attend a corral of the bullring to decide which of the string of bulls their employer will fight. Bulls are sometimes matched up; for instance, the heaviest and the lightest, the one with the biggest horns and the one with the smallest horns, etc are put together in pairs. The numbers of the bulls are written on pieces of paper and placed in a hat and the representatives draw one out.
Picadores on horses still wear the 16th century traditional attire and ask for a permission to open the fiesta. The especially deep yellow soil is brought from a village in Andalucia to cover the ring. A torero, in his embroidered costume, walks gracefully with his team along the arena. Viewers carry white handkerchiefs for the occasion they like the performance of a torero and they ask for a trophy, one ear of the bull first, then the second one, and then the tail. Both women and men wear formal attire to attend the show. A torero dedicates his performance to someone around, throwing his hat, and recovers it later with a present inside. The performance is provided with live special music at some moments, when a torero is especially good and viewers throw flowers to him, when everything is ended.
Escalafon is a league table for successful toreros in demand, who are awarded the best contracts. The success of a matador is not measured by the number of years or tails cut, but by the number of fights fought.
The bullfighting culture also contains such event, as encierro, where bulls are run through the streets and corredores (runners) attempt to run in front and alongside them as closely as possible. The most famous encierros are run in Pamplona, but they are also held in Logrono, San Sebastian de Los Reyes, Cuellar, Tudela, Tolosa and other cities. The bulls at the Pamplona encierros are the actual bulls that will be fought the same afternoon, though in other places the case can be different.
Originally, bullfighting was a sport of nobility and these traditions still survive. Most wealthy and rich families breed bulls and hold bullfights, inviting the best bullfighters to participate. Charity bullfights are also organized.