August 4 and 5 are the two main days of the Festa Major in Vilanova. The Tuesday program started in the morning in the plenary hall of the ajuntament. There, in front of the organisers, local politicians and others, the writer Ramon Solsona from Barcelona read this year’s opening speech, in his words, five mysteries of joy (misteris de goig) - five scenes which he associates with Vilanova i la Geltrú: First, the railway and the role it has played for this town. Second the Wamba - a rubber shoe which had its origin as a by-product the Pirelli tyre factory which used to be located in what is now Eixample de Mar and which became highly popular. Third, la Geltrú and its, possibly, historic roots in the Germanic girl's name Guisaltrud. Forth, the work of Victor Balaguer and the museum he left behind here. Fifth and final, the snow of August (la neu d'agost) since during these days the town dresses up in white to honour its patron saint Virgin Mary (Mare de Deu), purissima like virgin snow.
As soon as he had finished, we could see local politicians and the festa major committee (pabordes) take positions on the town hall balconies, while a salute of (at least) twelve mortar shots was fired off and devils and dragons were dancing in the plaça de la Vila.
In the late afternoon the celebrations continued with the “performance parade of the vigil before the festa” (cercavila de la vigilia). While the parade of August 5th always follows a strict protocol, limiting the number of teams (colles) allowed to participate to the most traditional ones, the one on August 4th is an opportunity for the newer ones or those closely linked to the outer neighbourhoods (barris) to show their cultural skills in the town centre. Now, since this parade is takes place before the sun sets, it naturally lacks a bit of exciting atmosphere, but, for the same reasons, offers better conditions for observing and filming all activities.
Thanks Jordi (Bordegassos) for letting me experience what it is like to see this performance parade from the balcony of the Gran Penya in the middle of the Rambla.
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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Festa Major, Penedès, Vilanova