Thursday, 8 April 2010

Swedish Fans of Catalan Giants

What a tourist can easily appreciate with Catalan giants is that some of them are as high as heavy. Or that, in spite of this, the porters of giants (geganters) make them seem so agile when they dance. Or that they have handsome looks and beautiful clothing (the oldest ones are almost always kings or nobles, but not only light-skinned - they might just as well be Moorish (moros)).

What is difficult for an outsider to understand is why they evoke so strong feelings that local people follow them through the streets. I think the answer lies in them being symbols of their towns, but (unlike, for example, a coat of arms) also have "personality" and (unlike most, no matter how successful, sports clubs) tie together several generations. Grandparents in Vilanova today can show their grandchildren the same giants which, once upon a time, captured the attention of their own long-deceased grandparents.

This is a feeling which my children have a chance to develop, but which I, who have grown up in Sweden, of course, can not have. In return, I would guess that we newcomers are more likely to be able to appreciate the giant culture as a whole, and not only take interest in the giants of our own town.

A significant contribution to the myth surrounding the giants is that they show up just a few times every year. Last year - when the Vilanova's old giants celebrated 300 years - we were spoiled with both exhibitions and parades, but during a normal year, like this, we will see them during the festa major and, perhaps, the odd other occasion.

On Sunday, March 28, two of the giant couples who visited our town during the celebrations last summer, were dancing in the streets of
Vilafranca del Penedès, on the Day of the porter of giants (dia del geganter): the town's own giants - gegants the Vilafranca -, of course, and the gegants del Pi from Barcelona. The couples were followed by their little giants, respectively, petits gegants de Vilafranca and the gegantons del Pi.

Both my children and I love the Catalan giants so we were there and got - thanks to the sun as well as the atmosphere - a delightful taste of summer.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Folk culture, Giants, Penedès, Vilafranca, Vilanova,

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