Monday, February 20, 2012

Feast Of Santa Eulalia

As I always say, "another day, another festival here in Spain! This time it was the feast of Santa Eulalia, one of the co-patron saints of Barcelona (the other is Sant Jordi). Eulalia was martyred as a young girl so she's also become the patron saint of Barcelona's children (her body is interred in Barcelona's cathedral). The official city website for the event says that this year's Barcelona festival of Santa Eulalia celebrates a child's fantasy view of life in the city to include visits by the famous gigants (giants) and light shows on some of the city's landmarks. On Saturday night in Plaza Sant Jaume there were both:
Santa Eulalia is well represented in Catalunya as her image and name appears many places throughout the area. The main Barcelona-city-government building held an open house over the weekend, which was a bonus, probably (in part) because of the amount of her imagery that is present in the building. The Adjuntament building is really deserving of its own story but I'll show just a couple of pictures including this one of one of the meeting rooms where you can see a statue of Santa Eulalia on the far left side:

The building had a definite castle-feel to it. It was full of amazing artwork and decorations including some especially cool original artwork in the mayor's office, which was included in the tour. The photo below shows another meeting room with a giant Catalan flag and a statue of Sant Jordi slaying the dragon:

Like I said, it's a pretty impressive building and I was lucky to get to visit because it's rarely open to the public. I can't imagine what it costs to maintain the place because it's chock-full of rooms that look like this one:

On Sunday, as part of the weekend's festivities, there was a sculpture dedication just outside of the Adjuntament building (above). The sculpture, which looks like giant chicken wire twisted into a large tower, is supposedly representative of, and dedicated to, the castellers of Catalunya. Having recently gotten involved with a group of castellers, I'm not really sure how I feel about it:

I can say for certain that it wasn't well received by the locals, some of which live nearby, who object to its styling and its (supposed) 700,000 euro (almost a million U.S. dollars) price tag. There was a full-on protest during the dedication where folks made so much noise that it was almost impossible to hear the people speaking. The neighbors hung signs on their buildings stating their displeasure. I liked this one that said "we need bread not scrap metal":
Since the sculpture was dedicated to the castellers, four groups of castellers were invited to participate including my group, the Castellers del Poble Sec. It marked my first city-wide casteller activity and the first one where I was officially "uniformed". This is me practicing biting my collar like a true casteller:

Castellers bite their collars to keep it in place to help protect their necks while other folks are standing on their shoulders. Actually, it's surprising to me that there isn't some sort of special shoulder and neck protection marketed to casteller groups. Hmm...maybe a new business idea... This is a photo of our first castle of the day, a four-level pillar:
One of the highlights of the day for our group was this three-person-by-seven-level castle that's still under construction (you can just make out my head sticking up at the left-side of the base):
The casteller part of the festival of Santa Eulalia ended with the tradition of passing the enxañeta (en-sha-neta), the little girl that is the top of a completed castle, from her position up to the balcony overlooking the plaza. It's a pretty crazy idea and it's even crazier seeing it in person:
It was another interesting weekend and a fun casteller debut for me. Can I just say again how much I love learning about and experiencing all of this stuff?

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