Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Centennial Giants Make Vilanova Stand Out

The Festa Major of Vilanova i la Geltrú is not the oldest one, the biggest one or the most typical one (la més típica). Still, I have learnt that it has a very special place in people’s hearts, just because it is ours. And I have begun to feel the same: during the coming week the streets will be full of people and I will bump into acquantances whom I have not seen for a long time and I will, most likely, also make new friends. I will see teachers and parents from my sons’ school and realize that they are in the same dance team as some of my customers or suppliers. The Festa Major is like a contrast liquid which reveals the fine-meshed social network of our little town.

Having said that, although all vilanovins love the Festa Major as it is, we can not help feeling proud when it gets attention in national media, as it does this year. Our oldest local giants – the tallest ones in Catalonia! – celebrate their 300th anniversary and therefore several other giant couples - all older than 100 years - have been brought here from all around Catalonia. Some of these are leaving their home towns for the very first time, due to their high historic value.

My first impression when entering the historic library of the Victor Balaguer Museum was unbeatable: Suddenly I was totally surrounded by giants and that filled me with a deep feeling of respect - a flashing reminder about how small we humans are and how short our life is. Fortunately enough, the presence of my wife pulled me back to reality and we started observing all details: the marble like smooth face of the geganta d’Olot, compared with the scarred one of her warrior husband, who seems tired from all things he has seen. The perfect fairy tale king and queen exemplified by the giants from Manresa. The gegantons de Pi, whose clothes reminded us that, historically, many giants used to be dressed up in new things and always in line with the latest fashion.

The exhibition program is full with anecdotes. For example did we learn that the funny looking Gegants Indis from Reus which will be joined by the Vitxets and Moros from the same town for the Saturday giant parade, and that the three couples were made to symbolise different continents. A fourth couple, representing America, was planned but never built. Well, at least I think that the so called Gegants Indis possibly look like a cartoon version of American Indians, but certainly not like people from India.

As you have already guessed, for all the splendour of the visiting giants, my favourites are our own Gegant de la Porra (the Giant with the Club) and the Geganta Grossa. Vilanova i la Geltrú is my first home in Catalonia and will for a foreseeable future be the model, with which I evaluate things from other parts of this country.

From the perspective of popular culture, decades will pass before our town again receives the chance to host an event of this magnitude and whatever it will be, it will not be a Pan-Catalan Giant Exhibition. So, unless you have seen the it, hurry up to the museum – on Saturday afternoon it will be too late.

Finally, a big hand to the Giant Performers (geganters ) of Vilanova i la Geltrú and the pabordes (the Festa Major committee) for this exceptional program item, which makes our Festa Major shine in the eyes of everyone with an interest in Catalan culture.

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Versió catalana

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Festa Major, Penedès, Vilanova

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