Catalonia traditions & independent spirit

Europe, Spain — By on November 14, 2014 5:37 PM


Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain, proud of its own identity having its own flag, language and distinct culture. Comprising of four provinces located in the northeast corner of the country, Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest regions. Many Catalans think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of Spain and desire independence. Spain refuses to allow a referendum on the issue; however, Catalonia in determination recently held a vote in which over 2 million Catalans voted on the issue of secession: 80.7% voted yes to Catalonia becoming a state, and yes to that state to be independent. The government in Madrid called the vote illegal.

human tower

Photograph: Benedetta Rusconi/SIME/4cornersimages

I recently visited a friend in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, a city that exudes Catalan spirit and pride. Having good luck in timing I was able to experience one of the most well known Catalan traditions the construction of  Castells (a Catalonian word meaning castles)  a performance of erecting human towers. The tradition originates around Tarragona in the 18th Century.

“A castell is considered a success when stages of its assembling and disassembling, can be done in complete succession. The assembly is complete once all castellers have climbed into their designated places, and the enxaneta climbs into place at the top and raises one hand with four fingers erect, in a gesture said to symbolize the stripes of the Catalan flag. The enxaneta then climbs down the other side of the castell, after which the remaining levels of castellers descend in highest-to-lowest order until all have reached safety.

Aside from the people who climb to form the upper parts of the tower, others are needed to form the pinya, or bottom base of the castell, to sustain its weight. Members of the pinya (most often men) also act as a ‘safety net’ if the tower structure collapses, cushioning the fall of people from the upper levels.” – Wikipedia

“Despite the risks, castellers insist that their sport is as safe as many others and a great way to develop Catalan virtues – hence the castellers’ motto  “Força, equilibri, valor i seny”, or “Strength, balance, courage and common sense.” –  Trevor Baker – BBC

See the castells at Avinguda de la Catedral, Barcelona, at 7pm on Saturdays through 15 September, except in August.

CLICK HERE to see more pics of human towers.

 

 

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