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My neighborhood Feste Major

Posted on 16 September 2012 by American expat!

This city will not let me work.

It’s the end of summer, Sunday night, and I am sitting here at 9:35pm trying to get a jump on the work week coming up (I’m freelancing and I work from home) and I’ve been listening to an arsenal of firecrackers a few streets away machine gunning off for a sold twenty minutes. It’s echoing off the buildings and worrying my cat and I know that soon I will be compelled to go investigate, even though I know exactly what it is.

This week, which includes the previous weekend, so nine days in total, my neighborhood’s Festa Major has been celebrated non-stop. Every barrio in Catalunya has their own saint, and the Festa Major is the annual celebration of the personal saint of the neighborhood. I actually don’t know which saint has tutelage over my neighborhood, but it must be an important one because the annual party here is a major affair. It has the usual gegants i capgrossos (papeir mache giants), Castellers and of course, the correfoc (“fire-runs” directly translated) where a bunch of people dress up as devils, run through the streets and shoot fireworks in to the spectators from spinning pitchforks and sticks. They are nearly always accompanied by a papeir mache (yes, paper) dragon or other animal that also shoots fireworks at the crowd. This is all to beat of a drum line, or gralla, and lasts for several hours. I’ve featured the correfoc as one of my loves on the principle that it forces one to take personal responsibility for their own safety, unlike in my country where this would never be allowed in the first place because of the mountain of frivolous lawsuits from dumbshits who don’t wear hats as they run through the sparks until they catch their hair caught on fire and singe their eyebrows off. Oh, and it’s also a lot of fun to participate.

La Merce

This week has featured multiple streets closed off for outdoor dinners, where neighborhood people bring long tables outside into the street and dine together, multiple stages where bands and DJs have played until 3am most nights, a parade of tiny, rolling discotheques, workshops and children’s entertainment throughout the week, plus  decorations on balconies, shopfronts and strung across streets to form decorative foliage, a different theme for each participating street. (For the best example of this, look no further than the barrio of Gracia, famous for the neighborhood participation each year).

So now, after a week of distractions (which also included hot weather requiring an afternoon or two at the beach), I am forced once again to close my computer and go out into the night, joining the rest of the neighborhood, who will perhaps buy a mojito at a streetside stand, don a hat and dance with the drums and the devils of the Catalan neighborhood festa major.

 

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