Sunday, March 3, 2013

Changing with the Times - Sant Medir 2013

Now, normally I should be writing about the Festa de Sant Medir in real time.  In case you've forgotten or maybe I haven't told you before, in Spain (and I believe most of Europe), holidays are actually celebrated on their actual day - not observed on a Monday or Friday.  So since today is March 3, the Festa de Sant Medir should have happened today.

But it didn't.  Instead, much to our surprise it was yesterday, March 2.  At first we thought, hmmmm.... maybe it wasn't on the 3rd the last few years.  But then I looked back on pictures and my calendar and yup, it's been March 3rd year after year.  The good news is that this made it easier to get out of my street today when Aidan and I had a birthday party to go to.  The bad news is my Saturday shopping was a bit miserable with the tons and tons of crowds!!

And that, my friends, is exactly why the festival was changed.  Yes, someone finally made the connection that having a festival on a Saturday is a great way to boost the economy, at least here in Gracia (it's only a festival held in this part of the city).  How did I find this out?  Well, I was doing my weekly shopping at my "other" stores (other meaning stores other than my grocery store and fruit and veggie stand - this means my American store, the cheese store, the butcher, the Italian store, etc etc which I do while the kids are at tennis on Sat with Josh) and when I was chatting with the woman who runs the Italian store, I asked her... isn't Sant Medir usually on the 3rd?

Her response?  Yes it is, but since last year it was on a Saturday for the first time in 7 years and the merchants were sooooo pleased with the extra money in their pockets, they decided that instead of having the festival on Sunday which would have been the 3rd (on Sunday EVERY shop is closed here, even the grocery store), they decided to move it to Saturday in the hopes that more money would be made.  Smart move move indeed.

Now I'm not saying we have to move every festival to the weekend and in fact, I wouldn't like that.  I like that tradition is held near and dear to the people in Spain.  However, I think there needs to be a happy medium.  In a time where there is 26% unemployment, people need to think outside the box as well as on occasion, bend in their traditions just a little bit for an end result that will hopefully in the long run help turn things around.

So to get back to the festival.  We heard the booms of fireworks around 8AM and thought....hmmmm, no way they could be doing this today.  And then Josh went out running and said there were horses on some of the street getting ready.  Um, ok, so maybe it is today????  The kids were bummed that they had to go to tennis but now that we have a car they don't have to leave until 10:40 and the festival starts around 9:30.  And so Josh took them out for a little bit before tennis so they could collect some candy.

Oh yeah, I should probably remind you what Sant Medir is in case you forgot from years' past.  Sant Medir is considered the "sweetest festival" here in Gracia.  We have parades running up and down all different streets during the day (with the exception of siesta of course) - often times running into each other at varying intersections.  During these mini parades, there are horses and batucada (percussion band) and "floats" (I use that term loosely as they are trucks with the sides pulled up) where the people on board don't just throw but hurl candy at the crowd.  Hard candy mind you.  And it hurts when it hits!

Walking around doing my errands I caught a few shots and then when the kids got home from tennis there happened to be part of the parade finishing up near our square and as we walked to lunch.  So we grabbed a tote and started catching candy.  The only downside to the festival being on a Saturday...the night time parade.  This is a collaboration of all the individual street parades that do a specific route and ends down Gran de Gracia.  Last year since it was on a Saturday it was beyond jam packed with people... to the point where Aidan said he didn't care about the candy and there were too many people and can we please go home.  So this year, since it was Saturday again, we didn't even bother with the evening parade.  Slacking a little bit on our festival attendance, perhaps a little bit of laziness as well, but I can't help but say I wasn't disappointed to not have to shove our way through the crowds.

Here is some video I took from my iphone as I walked home from the grocery store.  Notice the cars being pelted in the street with hard candy... glad I have a garage!!  Also notice the wheels on the wagons - they are COVERED in candy! 

Batucada near our square

Collecting candy from the street

Waiting patiently

Ok band move along, we want candy!!!

Some of the people on the street were handing porrons of wine to the people in the parade - a porron is a type of wine pitcher with a spout so you can pour it right into your mouth.  Click on the picture to see it larger.

More horses

More drinking... seeing a theme here?

These two horses were less than happy and were jumping up as best they could on their hind legs.

More batucada

Mmmmm.... candy!

Traditional "float"

Aqui, aqui!!!!

Waiting in the street for more candy

But in the end, it was a fun way to spend part of a Saturday, enjoying the traditions of our neighborhood, collecting some candy and then trekking our way thru the sticky streets of Gracia back towards home (this must be the street cleaners worst nightmare).


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