Monday, 4 February 2008
The Candy War - Vilanova's Claim to Fame
El Carnaval de Vilanova has been declared to be of national interest to Catalonia and that is partly thanks to la Guerra de Caramels (the Candy War). When we moved here, I thought that this was a marketing gimmick to make the town famous, but it is the other way around. The comparses (carnival societies) have been fighting in the streets of Vilanova for more than a 100 years but in spite of fascinating traditions, this town does not seem to be able to ‘sell’ itself to the outside world.
The comparses enter the town centre already at nine a’clock Sunday morning, each with its own brass and drum orchestra playing up-beat marches. In our house, we had the opportunity to hear what happens when five of them at the same time test the echo in the viaduct below our windows – it was very loud, but easily forgiven when you see all happy faces.
Since there are some forty odd comparses taking part, they have to take turns fighting in the Plaça de la Vila. The children were first out and had to fight during a rain shower, but most of the other “wars” had a better weather.
When the figthing was over and the comparses, as always, left behind a town with a sweat smell in the air and streets sticky from crushed candy.
Again, when we were new in Vilanova we were afraid to have our children hit by hard candy, and therefore avoided to go out during the busiest hours this day. Nowadays, I admit that risk exists, but is worth taking. Just like my wife and I, our children truly enjoyed the guerra de caramels. But they mangaged to collect far too much candy.