Monday, 17 March 2008

Among Palm Leaves and Tractors in Vic

On Palm Sunday (diumenge de rams), Catalan children receive symbolic palm leaves from their godparents – elaborate and decorated palmes for the girls and simpler straight palmons for the boys – which they bring to church to have them blessed. The event serves to commemorate how Jesus, according to the tradition, was greeted when he rode into Jerusalem before his passion.

Since we are not particularly religious, but also since we have all our relatives abroad, my wife and I decided to let our small boys experience some parts of the tradition by taking them to the fair of Vic (Fira de Rams), whose origins can be found in the sales of handicraft palm leaves but subsequently has expanded to be a general agriculture related trade show.

The building of human towers (castellers) and a competition in motor saw sculpturing offered nice secular alternatives to morning mass, and since the town was already full of people when we arrived, I have a feeling that were not the only ones to skip church. Our sons could have shown more interest in the horses and donkeys on sale, and less in the tractors and agricultural machines, but except for that we had a very nice Sunday.

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