Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Entering Into the Complexity of Vilanova's Festa Major

As a foreigner who wants to learn to know Catalonia, I see the Festa Major as a great opportunity to take the pulse of my adopted hometown: How strong are the old traditions and which new ideas are presented? To what an extent do people participate and how committed are local politicians? For that reason, I will try to cover this year’s Festa Major of Vilanova i la Geltrú in all its aspects – albeit with a focus on poplular culture – and present my findings here in the blog.

Yesterday, Tuesday July 21 was a natural starting point , since in the afternoon, the official Festa Major program was made public. In the presence of the mayor, the town councillor (regidora) of cultural affairs and surprisingly many 'ordinary' vilanovins, the members of the Festa Major committee (pabordes) went through what they considered important or unique for this year. We are, for example, more or less guaranteed to see human towers of nine levels, since, on August 1, both the Castellers de Vilafranca and the Colla Joves Xiquets de Valls will join our local Bordegassos in the Plaça de la Vila.

I will not claim to have understood everything which was said, but it does not matter since I could buy the program and will now be able to go it through at my own pace. (My personal recommendations will, within shortly, turn up in the "Event Calendar".) Except for that, the limitations of my Catalan did not prevent me from seeing that we have a thought-through Festa Major poster and that there will be a lot of Festa Major inspired souvenirs to buy, topics to which I will come back in later posts.

So, who am I to try to describe our Festa Major in English? A historian, ethnologist or anthropologist of Catalan origin? Well, my professional life does, in fact, not have anything to do with popular culture. Now, does that disqualify me from this assignment? I do not think so. First of all, this is my fifth summer in Catalonia, so I am not really a new-comer any longer. Two years ago I felt that it was time to enter into the complexity of this event and translated the Festa Major Program of Vilanova into English. Last year I worked to broaden up my perspective by making comparisons with other Catalan towns and the result was a - still developing - Festa Major glossary.

Having said that, I still have a lot to discover and that is where I hope for help from other people. If you see that I misunderstand details or, even worse, miss the big picture, please, let me know. You will see that I am fast to re-think and eager to improve.

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Versió en Català

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Technorati tags: Castellers, Catalonia, Festa Major, Human Towers, Penedès, Vilafranca, Vilanova,

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