Tuesday, 30 September 2008

ENG: The Walking Human Towers of Tarragona

Many Catalan towns have competitions between castellers during their festa major, but the one of Tarragona on the day of la Mercè (September 24) is unique. Here, proper castells have been assembled since the end of the 18th century and the town musters as many as four local groups; the Xiquets de Tarragona (founded in 1970), the Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona (1979), the Xiquets del Serallo (1988) and the Colla Castellera de Sant Pere i Sant Pau (1990).

The first task on this day is to assemble traditional human towers and the groups (colles) take turns to make two each at the small square Plaça de les Cols. If you observe the movement of the crowd from the top of the cathedral stairs, it feels like colour streams of violet, pink, blue and green flowing back and forward, since the groups are easily recognised by their shirts of distinctive colours. The pink (on a closer look striped red and white) of the original Xiquets and the violet of the Jove dominate the scene since they have the most members. These two are also the most experienced groups, regularly assembling towers with up to eight levels.

In the second phase of the program – els pilars caminants de Tarragona – the task is to assemble a pillar (pilar; a human tower with one person per level) of four levels, walk up and down the 20 steps of the stairs in front of the cathedral and then continue, still in formation, through the narrow carrer Major down to the Plaça de la Font and the town hall. The age of each colla determinates the starting order, but while the oldest two groups started first and therefore had more spectators cheering for them, it was the stability and speed of the later two which really made an impression on me.

This discipline must be a Tarragona specialty. I am not yet an expert in the area of castells, but I doubt that, for example, Vilanova’s Bordegassos would be able to do this, although they outperform Serallo and Sant Pere i Sant Pau in classic castells.

To me, the walking pillars of Tarragona added a new dimension to the art of castellers and easily make it to the top positions of what people interested in Catalan popular culture must not miss.
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Technorati tags: Castellers, Catalonia, Festa, Human Towers

SWE: Tarragonas vandrande pelare



Castells (mänskliga torn) byggs det runt om i hela Katalonien, men den 24:e september – när helgonet Mercè firas – tas den här kulturformen till en annan nivå. I staden Tarragona har det byggts mänskliga torn som vi känner dem sedan slutet 1700-talet och idag har staden fyra grupper med castellers. Två av dem – Xiquets och Colla Jove – är väletablerade och bygger klassiska mänskliga torn med upp till åtta nivåer, men alla fyra är specialiserade på den ”vandrande” versionen. I pelare (pilar) om fyra nivåer av människor ovanpå varandras axlar, vandrar grupperna upp och ner för de 20 stegen i katedralstrappan och sedan vidare genom de trånga gränderna ner till rådhuset.

I en av de bästa presentationerna över Kataloniens festes (festivaler och stadsfester) står det att många rörs till tårar när de ser det här. Det hände också mig när jag nu i år såg det för första gången. Aldrig hade jag trott att pelarna skulle kunna förflytta sig så snabbt. Detta är nästan mer fantastiskt än castellers i sig.

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I mitt inlägg på engelska skriver jag mer utförligt om de grupper (colles) som finns i Tarragona.

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Technorati tags: Castellers, Catalonia, Human Towers, Penedès,

ENG: La Cavalcada – Giants Parading Through Barcelona

Giants (gegants) and nans (midgets, also called capgrossos, ‘big heads’) are vital ingredients of any Catalan festa, and during la Mercè, I went to Barcelona to see them during the so called Cavalcada. That turned to be a good and a bad decision.

Good since this is an opportunity to see not only the giants of the city centre – King James I (Jaume I) and his wife – but also those of the individual districts; Poble Nou, Sarrià, Gràcia, Raval, Sants etc. I have pictures of more than thirty figures, although I left out most of the nans.

Bad because of the big number of participants; the route from Plaça de la Universtitat to Plaça de la Catedral is long and the groups repeatedly get stuck along the way. Therefore, the Cavalcada was not as intense and exciting as I had hoped for. “All the Colours of Barcelona” (Tots els colors de Barcelona) was the theme of the year but although I agree with the intentions – to stress that this is nowadays a multicultural environment – I can not say that traditional folkart is a good means to spread that message.

The Cavalcada is above all a children’s event, so next year I will make sure to bring ours. And I will limit our visit to the final part, when all creatures pass by the stage and line up in front of the cathedral, accompanied by speaker comments and music.






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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Festa,

SWE: Barcelonas jättar i kavalkad



Skyddshelgonets Mercès dag den 24:e september utgör kulmen på Barcelonas festa major (stadsfest). Ett av de traditionella barninslagen är kavalkaden (cavalcada) där jättar och ’storhuvuden’ (capgrossos eller nans) tågar genom den historiska stadskärnan. I år var paradtemat ”Barcelonas alla färger” som en anspelning på att staden har blivit så multikulturell.

I YouTube-inslaget beskriver jag slutet på kavalkaden, när alla jättarna äntligen nått fram till Plaça de la Catedral.

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Mer information om kavalkaden hittar ni i mitt inlägg på engelska.

Friday, 26 September 2008

ENG: Am I a Hypocrite?

You might be wondering why a person like I who am interested in Catalan Popular culture, have not come back with more reactions and impressions from the Festa de Santa Tecla in Tarragona or the Festa de la Mercè in Barcelona.

The reason is a sad as simple. Our broadband connection provided by Ya.com currently does not work. I have allowed myself to publish this entry from work, but from there I will not be able to upload video clips and photos or do the research and spell checks which I – at least occasionally - demand of myself.

So, do not despair, those of you who want me to continue to share what I learn about the Catalan language and culture. I certainly have not lost my motivation for this project but, unfortunately, its most essential tool.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

CAT: La mestra diu que és xerraire – ho felicito!

Abans que el nostre fill gran tornés a l’escola no sabiem com hi reaccionaria. Ja que no parla el català quan nosaltres som a prop, coneixem poc sobre el seu nivell de la llengua. L’altre dia vam entendre que no hem de preocupar-nos del tema. “El teu fill és un xerraire”, va queixar-se la seva nova mestra. “I com parla? Que parla el català?”, vaig haver de preguntar, encara amb dubtes. Quan va respondre’m que “Clar que sí”, vaig haver d’agafar la má del meu fill i anar-m’en ràpidament. Espero que ella no veiés que gran va ser el meu somriure. “És que ella no enté que tinc moltes coses per contar-los als meus amics”, va defendre’s el meu fill. No vaig dir res, sinó vaig sentir-me molt content amb la vida.

Per al petit l’adaptació li està costant molt més, peró sobre tot per les hores quan no es parla. Durant l’estiu s’havia acostumat a fer una siesta de dues hores a una habitació fosca, fresca y tranquil•la. A la llar d’infants cal fer el mateix a una sala amb altres nens, molts d’ells plorant. El primer dia no va poder descansar res, i va tornar a casa amb un humor fatal. Després va anar millorant – cada dia una mica millor – fins ahir quan, finalment, va poder dormir una hora i mig. El resultat va ser fantàstic i jo diria que els nens confirmen el piràmide de Maslow. Si no es compleix el bàsic, no pot arribar-se més amunt. I al revés, si dormen bé, mengen bé i amb això segueix un bon humor per descomptat.

Monday, 22 September 2008

ENG: La Mercè in Ciutadella, Barcelona








The picture of the dragon on the roof formed part of Utan Ord (Without Words, in Swedish). Now pictures have been added in order to create a more comprehensive overview of what we experienced during the celebrations of la Mercè in the park Ciutadella, Barcelona, last Sunday.

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Here is a YouTube clip of the Barrenderos del Ritmo (Street-Sweepers of Rhythm, in Spanish).

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Festa

SWE: När Tarragona firar Santa Tecla

Tarragonas festa major kan spåras tillbaka till år 1091, när påve Urban II tydligen skall ha bestämt att den heliga Teclas dag skulle vara stadens stora högtid. Firandet kom dock igång på allvar som först 1321, när vad som påstods vara en relik av helgonets arm kom till staden.


Jättar, djävlar, käppdans och andra element som idag ses som gemensamma för hela den katalanska kulturen dök här upp redan för många sekler sedan och Santa Tecla finns med på Kataloniens officiella lista över ’Traditionella fester av nationellt intresse’. Till de i mina ögon mest unika inslagen hör ”de vandrande mänskliga pelarna” (pilars caminants; castellers som står på varandras axlar i flera nivåer och samtidigt går upp- och nerför en trappa) samt de satiriska skådespelen Dames i Vells.

Än idag lever det religiösa ursprunget kvar i mässor och hyllningsdikter (goig) till skyddshelgonet, men precis som vid festa major i andra städer har moderna festivalinslag som rockkoncerter och idrottsevenemang tillkommit. Det här är en välbesökt folkfest, inte minst av tarragonaborna själva.

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I ett tidigare inlägg på engelska ger jag rekommendationer för vad den folkkulturintresserade skall söka upp under Santa Tecla.

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Här finner ni den katalanska versionen av festivalprogrammet som helhet.

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Technorati tags: Festa, Katalonien, Wirdheim

Sunday, 21 September 2008

ENG: Recommendations on What to See During la Mercè; part 2

It is easy to get lost in the rich program of the Festa de la Mercè, so for those interested in popular culture, I have made a list of recommendations. The first part, covering the days September 19-22, can be found in this earlier entry and here follow my comments on the last two days. The official program of la Mercè continues throughout next weekend as well, but the traditional part culminates and ends on the day of la Mercè, September 24.

The text within brackets in Catalan links you to the organisers’ road descriptions.

Tuesday, September 23

If you still have not seen how happily above all senior Catalans join the sardana dance, you can do so at 18.00 in the Plaça de Sant Jaume (Ballada de sardanes amb la Cobla la Principal de la Bisbal).

The background to the xambanga is said to be that the geganters – those who maintain and dance inside the giants – wanted some fun when transporting their figures to the parades and therefore started to put fancy dresses on them. This has since developed into a separate parade (Xambanga de Gegants), the craziest one during la Mercè. It starts from Plaça Àngels at 21.30 and goes through C/ Pintor Fortuny, the Rambla and C/ Ferran in order to finish at Plaça Sant Jaume at 23.00.

Wednesday, September 24 – la Diada de la Mercè

If you live or stay in the Barri Gòtic, on the day of la Mercè you risk being woken up early by people playing gralles (Matinades de grallers). The gralla is a Catalan wind instrument with a unique sound which my whole family has learned to love.

The blunderbuss shooters – easily recognised in their historical clothes and very Catalan barretines – were originally impoverished feudal lords turned bandits. They are being celebrated since many people did not consider them criminals but rather political heros. At 10.00 groups of them march in a noisy gala parade (Galejada trabucaire) from the Avinguda del Catedral to Plaça Sant Jaume.

Tradition has it that in the 17th century, the Virgin of la Mercè listened to the prayers of the Barcelona citizens and saved the city from a plague of locusts. The mass celebrated on her day, at 10.30 in the parish of the Blessed Virgin la Mercè (Missa Concelebrada a la Basílica de la Mercè), is one of few elements which remind us about the religious origin of the festa major tradition.

At 11.00, giants and nans perform dances in Plaça Sant Jaume (Matí de gegants: VII Mostra de balls de gegants) and then walk in a parade via the Rambla and the carrers Bonsuccés Elisabets and Montalegre to Pati Manning. At 12.15 in the Plaça de Sant Jaume, as soon as the mayor comes out on the balcony of the town hall, the eagle of Barcelona will dance, surrounded by giants (Ball de l'Àliga i dels Gegants de la Ciutat). After this, the mayor and other local politicians walk in a parade towards the Palau de la Virreina in the Rambla together with an entourage of dancers and fantastic figures (Seguici d'Autoritats).

At 12.30, in the Plaça de Sant Jaume five groups of castellers from different parts of Barcelona start assembling typically Catalan human towers (Diada castellera amb les colles locals).

From 18.00 until 19.30, a parade will move through the centre, from Plaça Universitat, via C/ Pelai, the Rambla, Plaça Sant Jaume and Via Laietana, to the Plaça de la Catedral (Cavalcada de la Mercè). Do not get scared away by the fact that the theme of the parade is ‘the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue’ – all short performances will be carried out by traditional giants, nans and other fictitious figures.

At 19.00, there will be sardana dancing in the Plaça de la Mercè (Sardanes amb la Cobla Ciutat de Girona).

At 21.00, a concert by a traditional Catalan cobla will be held in the parish of the Blessed Virgin la Mercè (Concert amb la Cobla de Sant Jordi).

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N.B. The links to address descriptions are removed once the activity has taken place ('aquest acte està caducat', in Catalan).

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Festa

Friday, 19 September 2008

ENG: What Not to Miss During La Mercè

The festival program of la Mercè is extensive and I am sure that temporary visitors or newcomers to Barcelona feel a bit lost about where to focus. These days provide a rare opportunity to see living Catalan folk culture in the centre of Barcelona and I therefore recommend you the activities as of below.

The name in Catalan (within brackets) takes you to a summary (in Catalan) about each activity where the exact address or route, respectively, can be found under the headline lloc.

Friday, September 19

At 19.00, Giants, fire spitting beasts, devils and other fictitious figures dance in a parade (Seguici popular) from Palau de la Virreina, on the Rambla, to the Plaça Sant Jaume. At 19.15, when all figures have left the Rambla, members of the bakers’ guild hand out sweet bread (La Festa del Pa). Later on, at 19.45 when all figures have reached the Plaça Sant Jaume, they will be presented through short performances accompanied by bell ringing and fire works (Toc d'inici i repic de campanes). Also, at 19.00, the musician Jaume Sisa will announce that the festa major has begun (Pregó de festa major). The ceremony takes place inside the town hall but can be followed live on a TV screen in the Plaça Sant Jaume.

Personally, I am not a big fan of the sardana, but it is a cherished symbol of the Catalan culture. For that reason, I assume that many local people will join the dance in the Avinguda del Catedral, at 19.00 (Sardanes amb la Cobla de Sant Jordi - Ciutat de Barcelona).

On the contrary, during the dragon parade (Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc), starting from Plaça Sant Jaume at 21.30, heading for the Rambla via Plaça Nova, C/ Portaferrissa, and then going back again via C/ Ferran, you will have an exciting but noisy experience.

Saturday, September 20

The stick dance (ball de bastons) is the most energetic but also most popular of all Catalan folk dances. Between 11.00 and 12.50 you will see a lot of bastoners on and around Plaça Sant Jaume (Ball de bastons i Cercavila bastonera).

From 12.00 to 14.00, several couples of giant figures will be paraded through the Old Town (Ciutat Vella) and the quay area (moll) ('Homenatge a Jaume I: Cercavila de Gegants'). Since it is now 800 years since king James I (Jaume I) was born, the giants do not only come from Catalonia, but also from other cities which used to belong to his kingdom, eg. Perpignan in France and Valencia.

The afternoon will be dedicated to the Fire Run (correfoc). At 17.00, the timbales players (Tabalada del Correfoc) drum their way from the Rambla, via the Avinguda del Catedral and later Via Laietana to C/ Manresa. From there, at 18.30, children dressed up as devils (Cercavila de foc dels Petits Diables) will dance along Via Laietana up to Porta Cambó. This is an opportunity to show diables to small children, since the participants have sticks with spinning fires which spark, but do not crack.

At 19.30, when the dragon parade (Cercavila de Dracs i Bèsties del Correfoc) starts, you will hear the first loud explosions, and it will get even noisier at 20.15 in Av. Francesc Combó where the so called Gate of Hell (La porta de l'Infern: Inici del Correfoc) marks the start of the Fire Run. In the this (Correfoc), finally, as many as 40 groups of devils will dance through Av. Combó to Via Laietana and from there to Plaça Antoni Lopez and provide cracking fire for anyone who wants to join them under the flames. If you plan to do so, make sure to wear a hat, a long sleeved shirt and a neck scarf to avoid serious burns.

Sunday, September 21

This spectacular Sunday program starts at 10.30 with a parade of Falcons – those who build the acrobatic version of human towers (Cercavila dels Falcons de Barcelona) – from the Avinguda del Catedral to Plaça Sant Jaume. In that square, at 11.15 there will be performances ('Matí de falcons') by groups from Barcelona and Vilafranca del Penedès.

For those who prefer dance, at 11.00 in the Avinguda del Catedral there will be a competition between different groups of sardana dancers ('58è Concurs de Colles Sardanistes').

The highlight of the day will be the castellers assembling traditional Catalan human towers in the Plaça Sant Jaume from 12.00 onwards (Festa castellera de les colles convidades). Be prepared for a square full of people. Except for the local Castellers de Barcelona, also the Minyons de Terrassa and – the best ranked group – the Castellers de Vilafranca, will take part.

The afternoon is rounded of with a parade (Processó de la Mare de Déu de la Mercè) where the entourage of dancers and monsters which follow the Patron Saint will provide entertainment for the audience. It starts at 17.00 from the Plaça de la Mercè and takes the carrers Ample, Avinyó, Ferran and Bisbe in order to finish at the Avinguda del Catedral.

Monday, September 22

On the Monday, there are not any folk culture activities but, as during the other days, the program is full of concerts, fairs and happenings etc. And the three exhibitions related to Catalan traditions - as described at the end of this entry - are of course open.

Tuesday and Wednesday, September 23-24

The folk culture part of the festival program culminates during these two days, so I make my recommendations as a seprate entry, which you can find here.

Exhibitions

Throughout the days there are three exhibitions related to the popular culture of la Mercè. The opening hours are 10.00-20.00 and entry is free of charge.

Dragons and other fire spitting beasts are genuinely Catalan, and until September 23 there is an exhibition about them (Mostra de dracs i bèsties de foc) in the vestibule of the Town Hall (Ajuntament). Children will like this.

Figures of giants are equally Catalan, and until September 23 some of them are exhibited at the Manning courtyard of the Casa de caritat (Mostra de gegants de Barcelona). Children will like this as well.

Until September 24, in the Palau de la Virreina there is an exhibition about the dancers and typical characters who follow as the Patron Saint Mercè’s entourage when she is being paraded ('El Seguici Popular de Barcelona').
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N.B. The links to address descriptions are removed once the activity has taken place ('aquest acte està caducat', in Catalan).
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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Festa

ENG: Finding Your Way Through the Program of La Mercè

As you can expect from a capital and tourist city like Barcelona, a lot of information about its festa major – la Mercè – is available in English. A good starting point can be to download the short summary on the history of the festival and some of the things we will be able to take part in during the coming week.

When you know that your are interested, it is time to move over to the Mercè web-site, where all general information is written not only in Catalan, but also in English and Spanish.

Here you will find the program ‘La Mercè day by day’ with a clickable calendar taking you to the daily activities. The headlines ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ are in English, but all descriptions are, admittedly, in Catalan and the same happens if you use Spanish as your starting point. Do not let this discourage you – all items are classified with a coloured icon and at the bottom of each page there is a legend explaining what is classified as ‘tradition’, ‘music’ and ‘sports’ etc.

The guidance in English (or Spanish) is better if you enter via ‘Programme’, since then you first receive explanations to the classifications. Following the links from there, you reach a list of all activities related to your area of interest. Again, the presentation of the individual items is in Catalan only, but those with knowledge of any other romance language will understand most of it. And at least for those of you interested in ‘tradition’, my Catalan-English festa major glossary will help you with all new expressions.

Whether you enter via ‘La Mercè day by day’ or ‘Programme’, each activity is presented with a link to the location where it takes place and a map. So, start exploring. And if you feel lost, come back to this blog later today – I will present a list of my personal recommendations.
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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Festa

ENG: A Short Introduction to La Mercè

Today is the first day of la Festa de la Mercè – the festa major of Barcelona. During the coming weekend, there will be a lot of activities around the city, but the peak will be reached coming Wednesday, September 24, on la Diada de la Mercè. After that, the traditional part of the festival is over, but the program of special events continues until September 28. Big crowds in the streets are foreseen from Saturday to Sunday (Sep. 20-21) as well as for the Eve (Vigília) of la Mercè (Sep. 23-24), so the Metro of Barcelona will exceptionally operate non-stop during these nights.

While popular culture dominates the festa major of any small Catalan town, la Mercè has developed to a more general and diverse festival. In my eyes, the more traditional items of the program are lost in the noise and that is a pity, since to most foreigners Barcelona is the point of entry into Catalonia.

In this blog, I will offer support on how to find your way through the program of la Mercè and also a list of recommendations of what not to miss if you are interested in learning more about Catalan culture. My advice to tourists and expats alike is to take the time to study the festival program. Those who do not will certainly still have a great experience, but risk to miss the many things which are unique to Catalonia.
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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Expat, Festa

Thursday, 18 September 2008

ENG: On the Program of Santa Tecla in English

These are the main days of the Festes de Santa Tecla of Tarragona - an event declared a 'Traditional Festival of National Interest' by the Generalitat and which offers a very extensive program. There must have been a plan to translate it into other languages, but as it is now, the English and Spanish links refer you back to the Catalan version. Having said that, I consider the program visitor friendly since next to each item, a link saying ‘veure localització’ leads you to a map.

Below are the highlights for everyone interested in Catalan popular culture, but do not hesitate to refer to the full program for details. With some knowledge of any romance language and my Festa Major Glossary you will be able to understand most of it.
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Friday, September 19 – la Santa Tecla Petita
• A day of dances and human towers (castells) performed by children. The cercavila (a parade with performances) starts at 19.00 from the Plaça de la Font.

Saturday, September 20
• The Concert of the Beguda Convidada (guest drink) takes place at at Plaça de les Cols at 12.30. This year's drink is limoncello from Pompeii (Tarragona’s Italian twin town).
• The performance of 'living folklore' takes place at the Rambla Nova at 19.00.
• At 22.30, the altarpiece of Santa Tecla is delivered to the cathedral.

Sunday, September 21
• At 18.00, the festa major announcement (pregó) is read at the town hall.
• From 19.30 onwards, a large number of giants and nans dance through the streets, starting from the Plaça de la Font.
• At midnight, and also at 1.30 a.m., people from the audience are allowed to lift and try to dance around inside the giant figures. This item is called the baixada del seguici i de les bandes.

Monday, September 22
• The parade (cercavila) of Santa Tecla, in which all folk culture groups (colles) take part, starts at 19.00 from Plaça de la Font.
• Throughout the evening there are performances of Dames i Vells; satiric comedy shows.
• At midnight, the party (revetlla) on the Eve of Santa Tecla begins and continues throughout the night.

Tuesday, September 23 – la Diada de Santa Tecla
• At 10.00, the divine service of the festa major takes place at the cathedral.
• The divine service is followed by a parade and at 11.15, at the Plaça de la Font, one after the other of the participating groups take turns to show their best performance (tanda de lluïment).
• Human towers (castells) will be assembled at Plaça de la Font from 13.00 onwards.
• At 19.00, the procession el Braç de Santa Tecla, starts from the Pla de la Seu. Again, all folk culture groups (colles) take part.
• The festa major fireworks will be shot off at 22.30.

Wednesday, September 24 – la Diada de la Mercè
• A human towers (castellers) performance takes place at Plaça de les Cols at 13.00. After that, all groups assemble pilars (human towers of one person per level) and try to walk up and down the stairs at the Pla de la Seu.
• The program is rounded off with a "firerun" (correfoc), starting at 22.30

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Personally, I hope to be able to make it to Tarragona during the weekend, but I am confident that my wife will be more interested in la Mercè – the Festa Major of Barcelona – which also has started by now. Well, wherever we take our children in the end, we can be sure that they will receive a good dose of Catalan culture.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Festa, Tarragona, Wirdheim

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

SWE: Tossa de Mar – så idylliskt som alla säger



Tossa de Mar är en av de mest välbesökta turistorterna på Costa Brava – den vilda kusten – men har trots det lyckats behålla mycket karaktär. Allra bildskönast är de trånga gränderna uppe i den muromgärdade gamla staden – Vila Vella – men också kvarteren nedanför presenterar en medelhavsstad så som åtminstone jag vill ha den: full av byggnader som fortsätter att berätta sina historier även om det nu ligger restauranger och småbutiker i dem.

Undvik absolut inte Tossa för att det skulle vara för gulligt. En barfotapromenad på den mycket grova sanden på Platja Gran påminner om att allt du ser är äkta och alls inte tillrättalagt. Platja de la Mar Menuda har något finare sand. Som alltid på Costa Brava blir havet snabbt djupt, vilket gör att relativt stora båtar som förbinder Tossa med andra kuststäder kan gå ända in till stranden. Tar man sig i stället hit med bil bör man förbereda sig på att vägen är väldigt kurvig, oavsett varifrån man kommmer.

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infotossa.com och tossademar.com kan man klicka sig fram till turistinformation på engelska.
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Technorati tags: Katalonien, Wirdheim

Sunday, 14 September 2008

SWE: Vilafranca del Penedès – en öppen, äktkatalansk stad


De som tror att äkta katalanska samhällen befolkas av bakåtsträvande och världsfrånvända stofiler skall genast besöka Vilafranca del Penedès (c:a 30.000 invånare). Här möter man en levande folkkultur; stadens castellers – de som bygger mänskliga torn – är de bästa i Katalonien och stadsfesten – Festa Major – är klassad som ”den mest typiska”. Stadskärnan är kompakt och bland sevärdheterna kan nämnas Vinmuseet, som också skildrar lokalhistorian, och basilikan Santa Maria (båda på Plaça Jaume I). Detta är huvudstaden i vittvinsregionen Penedès. Av vinhusen är Torres det mest kända men nästan alla erbjuder visningar.

Kanske beror Vilafranca-bornas öppenhet mot främlingar på att det här är en gammal markadsstad. Än idag fylls gatorna på lördagar med tillfälliga stånd. Mycket av det som erbjuds är ointressant men stämningen gör marknaden, liksom resten av staden, värd att besöka. Det är lätt att komma dit: lokaltåg (rodalies) från Barcelona Sants avgår en gång i timmen och resan tar en knapp timme.

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Stadens turistinformation erbjuds på engelska, franska, katalanska och spanska.
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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Festa, Katalonien

Friday, 12 September 2008

CAT: Tornada a l’escola, tornada a l’ordre

Fa una setmana va tornar el nostre fill petit a la llar d’infants i el dilluns que vé començarà l’any escolar per al gran també. Finalment! Quasi tres mesos sense escola és massa temps. Per al fill gran, a qui li falten els seus amics, però també per a nosaltres, els pares. Les activitats alternatives – el casal de estiu de juliol i els ‘tallers’ de la setmana pasada – van ser bones, però l’horari és tan curt que vam haver d’adoptar-hi tota la vida laboral. Som estrangers i no podem demanar que ens ajudin els avis, ja que son tots a Suècia. Ara bé, no em queixo. Els nostres dos nens petits tornen a l’escola sense plorar, fins i tot amb molt de gust. Això no passa a tothom. Espero que no sigui per la raó que són feliços de no haver de passar tots els dies amb mi.

Tornem a la normalitat i - almenys és això que vull jo - una mica més d’ordre a casa. Quin moment més oportú va eligir IKEA per emitir el nou catàleg. Enguany el vam rebre a la bústia, cosa que no ens havia passat abans. M’imagino que es van adonar que tenen com a mínim una familia de clients molt fidels - és a dir la nostra - per aquí a Vilanova. És un plaer de veure que aquesta empresa fa una edició catalana de la seva publicitat i que a les seves botigues sempre fan els cartells a ambdues llengües oficials. L’única cosa que no tradueixen son els noms suecs dels productes. Els alemanys tenen l’Institut Goethe i els francesos l’Alliance Française – amb això no podem competir nosaltres, els suecs. Tanmateix, gràcies a una empresa privada es difon el suec pertot arreu del món. Quin orgull per a una llengua tan petita com la nostra.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

ENG: What Catalans Commemorate on September 11




To most of the western world, the 11th of September is a day when we recall how, in 2001, our civilization was attacked by islamic terrorists. By an unfortunate coincidence, this is also the date of the Catalan national holiday – the Diada (short for la Diada Nacional de Catalunya).

On the “Onze de Setembre” of 1714, the defenders of Barcelona had to surrender after a siege which marked the end of the war of the Spanish succession (1701-1714). The Kingdom of Aragon, to which Catalonia belonged, had supported the Austrian archduke Charles’ claim to the Spanish throne, but he had had to give it up to the Bourbons. As a result of the war, Spanish regions in modern Italy and the Netherlands were taken over by the Austrians while Catalonia and everything to the west of it continued to belong to Spain.


What Catalonia lost on this day was not really its sovereignty – since the 12th century it had belonged to the Kingdom of Aragon which, in turn, from 1516 formed part of the decentralized Kingdom of Spain – but its furs (fueros, in Spanish). The furs were autonomy charters which allowed regions to maintain local institutions and law, but now they were replaced with the Nova Planta, a decree which, among other things, imposed Spanish as the only official language and centralized all administration. The Basque Country and Navarra, which had supported the Bourbons during the conflict, were allowed to keep their furs and that is the background to why, still today, these autonomous communities have separate fiscal and administrative systems within the Spanish state.

The celebrations of the Diada started in the 19th century as memorial speeches in the church Santa Maria del Mar (el Born) next to the Fossar de les Moreres where many bodies had been thrown into a mass grave after the war. At the time, the Catalan nationalist left criticised the acts for being religious, but they were the root of the first formal manifestation. The latter was held in 1901 at the monument to Rafael Casanova - a lawyer who in 1714, according to the legend, heroicly encouraged the Barcelona citizens to fight - and ended with 30 people being arrested.

During the dictatorship from 1939 to 1975, the Diada could only be celebrated in private, but in 1964, on the day of its 250th anniversary, some dared to manifest their Catalanisme in public, encouraged by the fact that the Franco regime celebrated “25 years of peace” after the Civil War. Of the 3.000 people who took to the streets, in fact, only seven were detained.

Throughout the last century not only Spanish oppression reduced the participation in the celebrations. A contributing factor have been internal conflicts among the Catalan nationalist, always split into left- and right-wing factions. That is a phenomenon which we know well from the politics of our days but, interestingly enough, since the Diada was declared national holiday in 1980, it has become a symbol of an inclusive Catalan unity. With the exception of Ciutadans, all political parties take part in the acts, i.e. even Partit Popular.

Here in Vilanova the program will start at 12.00 and take place at the statute of Francesc Macià – a Vilanova native and former President of Catalonia. This is by tradition a beautiful but calm manifestation of popular support for the Catalan culture. Those who are looking for hard-core independentistes will have to go to Barcelona. Posters about the celebrations there are hard to miss.

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Related web-sites: Wikipedia on the Diada Nacional de Catalunya, the Web of the Diada and 11setembre. And, of course, my own entry from last year on this topic.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Independence, Spain, Vilanova

Saturday, 6 September 2008

ENG: On the Flags of Catalonia, Independent or Not

Even visitors here a might notice that there are many versions of the Catalan flag. The official one – la senyera – has its origin in one of Europe’s oldest coats of arms and consists of four red pallets (quatre pals or quatre barres) on a yellow background. According to the legend, in 897 King Charles the Bald (Carles el Calb) wanted to honour the Wilfred the Hairy (Guifré el Pelós), Count of Barcelona, for his braveness during the siege of the city and therefore - with blood from the dying count’s wounds - used four fingers to paint lines on his golden shield.

Many people claim that this coat of arms stems from the counts of Barcelona, but its first undisputed appearance was in 1159, in the seal of Alfonso II of Aragon. It evolved into a symbol of the Kingdom of Aragon, and has since then been the base of the flags of the regions which formed part of it – Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Valencia.

Making a jump to the year 1918, in the peace negotiations after World War I, many countries were formally recognized as sovereign states - Finland and the Baltic countries - or even created – Czechoslovakia. Activists for an independent Catalonia felt a need for a battle symbol and, by definition, it could not be a flag accepted by the Spanish crown. Politician Vincenç-Albert Ballester is given the credit for having added a white star on a blue triangle to the senyeral’estelada blava, inspired by the the flag of Cuba which had ceased to be a Spanish colony in 1898. However, an independence flag with a star – albeit in the middle - can be found in photos from 1908.

Ballester’s flag was adopted as a unifying symbol until 1968 when Catalan revolutionaries wanted an even stronger symbol and replaced the white star with a red one. This flag is called the estelada roja (as of roig for communist red) and is still the version preferred by movements like JERC (the youth organisation of Esquerra Republicana) and CUP. Over the time it has gained popularity also outside the political left.

The design of the blava as well as the roja has never been standardized so sometimes the top arm of the star points to the sky and sometimes to the flagpole. The reason for this can possibly be that it is only a transitory symbol. Ballesters himself foresaw that the original senyera, without a star, would again be the only flag of Catalonia as soon as a sovereign state had been created.

On September 11, Catalonia celebrates its national holiday and all town halls (ajuntament) hoist the Catalan flag. This year, a few of them (among them Vilafranca del Penedès) will use the estelada - to celebrate the 100th anniversary of one of the strongest symbols for an independent Catalonia.

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Main source of information: la Comissió de 100 anys de l’estelada

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalonia, Independence, Spain

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

CAT: Memòries contradictòries de vacances a Suècia

Fins ara no he escrit res a aquest bloc sobre Halmstad, la bonica ciutat sueca on vaig néixer. Durant les vacances vaig començar de pensar les coses que vull presentar a una entrada i he decidit fer-la a castellà amb l’objectiu que atregui el més interés possible. Pot ser que sembli increïble, però entre suecs aquest lloc està connegut per les seves platges. Ja vereu, perquè vaig fer moltes fotografies i, clar, totes de sol.

A prop del mar tenen els meus pares una caseta de camp, on puc portar la meva família. Els agrada molt als nostres fills i fa uns dies el gran va fer-ne un dibuix. És veu clarament que es tracta d’una casa molt petita i que hi ha un banc al costat que dona als veïns. A la cantonada hi ha una barra fixa, ja que l’area pertany al club gimnàstic de la ciutat (prengueu nota de les plataformes on es posa l'entrenador per ajudar els gimnastes). Però més que res s’hi veu com plou d’un gran núvol fosc. Es nota que aquest nen no és d’allà - no ha aprengut l’art de suprimir memories de mal temps. La meva dona i jo, que ambdós som de la costa oest de Suècia, ho dominem perfectament. Als estius de la nostra infantesa sempre feia sol.

Monday, 1 September 2008