Friday, March 4, 2011

Festa de Sant Medir - Year 2!

You would think after a year I'd be done with the whole festival scene but I have to say that both Josh and I are still enthralled with it.  We love a good party and we love the fact that Spain, especially Catalunya, embraces the festival.  And so I still get excited, probably more so than the kids do, when I know that we have one coming up.

Today's festival is the Festa de Sant Medir.  This is one that I really liked last year - where everyone embraces their inner child trying to catch candy.  It is a parade specific to Gracia, our neighborhood here in Barcelona (like Back Bay, Financial District, Downtown get the picture).  There is a parade during the daytime for the adults and smaller kids and then another, larger parade ending in fireworks at night.  This festival is called the "sweetest" because they literally toss over 100 tons of candy to the crowds over the course of the day/night.  And let me tell you, the Spanish don't really toss, they throw...with all their might.  And those hard candies HURT!!!  Nothing like getting pelted in the face with a candy 500 times in a night!

The kids knew Sant Medir was today and were asking if there would be horses on our street again.  I was really surprised that Liam even remembered the festival from last year since he wasn't even three at the time.  But I guess how can you forget horses lining your street where normally there are none, right?  He was a little bummed that he would be in school for this today but he'll have to just see the pictures and video later. 

I'll admit, being a festival junkie and all, that I was keeping an eye out my window this morning looking for the horses as well as the tell tale sign of the start, the drummers.  I am currently working in the dark because my lamp broke in my office and yet decided not to go get a new one today because I might miss some of the festivities.  Yes, sad, I know... the lamp will have to wait til tomorrow!

Walking home from the store I saw the horses being unloaded from their trailers

For those who might not have been following this blog last year when I wrote about this festival, let me give you a quick recap.  According to Barcelona Yellow, my trusty festival website, "the legend of the.Festa de Sant Medir or Sant Emeriterio in Spanish, is about a farmer who became a Catholic Saint in Roman times during the persecution of Christians. The modern day festival started in 1830 when a baker called Josep Vidal i Granés, who lived in the newly opened street Gran de Gracia. He fell very ill one year and vowed that God would cure him, he would make a annual pilgrimage to the hermitage of his patron saint, Sant Medir.

The hermitage still stands just outside Barcelona on the way to Sant Cugat, where Josep Vidal was originally from. To make public his pilgrimage he would bang a drum and hand out sweets. This was very festive and every year more and more friends and neighbours joined him and this became the first "colla" of the Sant Medir festival. A "colla" is the Catalan name for a group or club.  Today there are thirty "colles" who participate and organise the annual event in the assocation called "La Federació de Colles de Sant Medir" - "the Confederation of Sant Medir Colles."

This morning I was thrilled to see the same horses with carriage that Liam and I saw last year - reinforcing the fact that this is a tradition, not just for the city but also for the participants.  And once again, the horses lined our streets.  I absolutely love watching the bands play and the beat of the drums can't help but get you shaking your groove thing (ok that might have been cheesy but it's true!). 

Horses heading up my street

This is by no means a fancy parade.  This is not Carnaval or Tres Reyes in any way shape or form.  But I think this goes to show that you can still have a fun time with both kids and adults laughing and running for candy without all the frills and expense that goes with we would normal construe as a traditional parade.  The "floats" if you can call them that are essentially pickup trucks with banners hanging from them.  People toss the candy like we toss beads at Mardi Gras (speaking of which, keep an eye for a Carnaval update coming this weekend!).

One of the Colles coming my way

Woman smoking a butt while waiting for her Colle to start - classy....

This year I was better about taking videos, I think because I knew more of what to expect.  However, I still had to duck from those candy throwers!!!

Video 1

This evening is the big parade held down on Gran de Gracia.  I remember last year, we'd been here just 2 months and Gran de Gracia was still pretty unfamiliar to me.  I wasn't sure how far away it was, how long it would take us to get there and where we were supposed to go for the parade.  It is amazing to me how far I've come from this perspective too.  Mainly because I walk down Gran de Gracia no less than 3-4 times a week and is one of my favorite streets now!  I remember feeling very intimidated by the idea of having to go down there last year and this year I'm looking forward to it, though I was hoping it would be less rainy - rain 2 years in a row just feels unfair!!!
Some of the candy left on the street after the parade went by this morning (by Friday morning the streets were immaculate!).

Thankfully while it was sprinkling out on the way by the time we made it down to the parade viewing area, it had stopped.  However, Aidan was less than thrilled to have to wear his winter jacket tonight since he's worn it maybe 3 times this winter, but it was the only one warm enough that could handle the rain if it started up again.  The kids were beyond hyper with excitement and we were happy to know that some friends of ours were going to meet us down at the parade.  Stuff like this is always more fun with a crowd I think! 
Liam doing a rain dance in the hopes of lots of candy

Jordan, Liam & Aidan waiting for the parade to start

He's got his bag around his neck ready to catch some candy

And the parade begins!!! This guy didn't look thrilled to have his picture taken...

Josh giving Liam a hand catching the candy

Look what we got!

"No, I don't have anything in my mouth."

Catch the candy Liam!

I LOVE candy!

Beautiful horses!  I'm amazed at how great all the horses were with the crowds and candy being thrown around them

This parade rocks!

Maybe I'll eat one or two...

"Aqui!  Aqui!"

Going right up to the "floats" - what big kids!

Showing off their stash of candy

Going up to the floats again and again!

Big smiles!  How can you not be happy when you have a bag full of candy?

Catching the candy

I was really pleased to see the boys, especially Aidan, come out of their shells this year. That doesn't mean I want them running in front of a float or a horse, but last year they hugged the sidewalk for dear life and honestly at that time, I was fine with that. I didn't know what to expect of the parade and I liked having them close. But this year, they went right up to the floats screaming "aqui, aqui!" (here, here!) like all the other kids. You'll hear them screaming in the videos.

This video focuses more on the drummers which is one of my favorite parts of any festival here!
More drummers and you see the people on the floats tossing the candy at us
Clip with Aidan and Jordan approaching the floats for candy!
Aidan and Jordan discussing their catch as well as some yelling of "aqui! aqui!"

Liam finally called it quits a little after 9 telling us he was ready to head home. Josh apparently had to carry him pretty much the entire mile walk back to our flat. Aidan was a trooper and made it til just past 10 before he told me he was all set. We laughed a lot on the way home which was great - I feel like he hasn't been laughing enough lately so it was wonderful to see the night end on such a high note (however he was a major crab this morning when he woke up for school after going to bed so late!).

And this weekend... well Josh is away in Prague (lucky guy - expect another blog update from him... I know, 2 in a week, amazing!) but we still have Carnaval here this weekend which we'll try to do without him. Today is the parade at the school so expect another update tonight or tomorrow!!


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