Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Catching On Fire To Honor A Saint

Hey all,

How was your weekend?  Mine was awesome, long, and oh so very tiring!  LOL  Let me tell you a little about what I did over the last few days.

First off, from Friday through Sunday, we had a holiday/festival here in Barcelona.  The Festival of Saint Eulalia.  Now she is the co-patron saint (along with Saint George of dragon slaying fame) of Barcelona.  She is called the virgin martyer and is dedicated to families.  Her story is a terrible one and even though I'm not Catholic nor have their beliefs in saints and all, I can still honor this thirteen year old child for standing firm for her faith.

This is what I wrote my group about her earlier...

When Eulalia refused to recant her fairth, she was given another chance. Thirteen chances, in fact; one for each year of her life.

The emperor decreed thirteen tortures for Eulalia and, after each one, she was given a chance to recant and make sacrifice to the Imperial Gods.
First, she was flogged. Then, her flesh was torn with hooks. After that, her feet were placed in a brazier of burning coals. Her breasts were then cut off. After this, boiling oil was poured over her. Next, molten lead. Still refusing to recant (could she speak?), she was thrown into a pit filled with quick lime.

Not satisfied with this and desperate to cow Eulalia, Dacian had her put into a barrel filled with broken glass, razors and knives and rolled it thirteen times down the hill known as the Baixada de Santa Eulalia.  This street is just by the Cathedral, leading to Banys Nous, after the beautiful Square known as Sant Felip Neri.

She was then locked naked in a stable full of fleas. It is said that every time a flea bit her, it died. But she was locked in all night and there were hundreds of thousands of insects. Today, people still say that –in memory of Eulalia’s torments– flea bites are more painful on the 12th of February than any other day of the year…

Dacian then had her paraded naked around town on a cart, but the sky took pity on her and covered her in a mantle of snow to protect her modesty.

Back in prison, Eulalia managed to escape with the help of an angel.  Dacian captured her again and crucified her on an “X” shaped cross. Again, snow fell to protect her from view and since that time, it has never snowed in Barcelona on the 12th of February.  At her death, her soul left her body in the shape of a white dove.

So, as you can see, this poor girl deserves respect for standing by her beliefs.

They honor her here with a myriad of different activities, all very traditionally Catalonian and it was awesome for me, a foreigner, to watch.   There were craft festivals, Sardana dancing (so very cool), folk dancing, casteel building (human towers--beyond cool to watch being done), the parades of the giants and beasts (two separate parades but huge in more ways than one!), and finally at night, the fire runs.

I have to tell you about them.  Now remember, people, I'm from the US of A where Mr. Safety walks around with a whistle and a big stick if you do ANYTHING that even hints of unsafedness.  LOL  But since we've begun traveling we can see just how over the top our country can be.  So many other places get things done without a tenth of the rules and regs we think are necessary.  It makes you think, I tell you...

But going on...  The fire runs, or Correfoc, aren't exactly what we expected them to be.  The parade participants--all dressed in specialized costumes, mostly devils--don't actually run with fire, but the ones we saw had a version of a firework--kinda like a pinwheel.  They'd light that sucker up and once it was shooting sparks and screaming, they'd twirl it around their heads and send the fire dancing. 

Some of them ran down the street with the sparklers streaming behind them, but we figured the parade actually got it's name from the members of the audience running for their lives as the showers of fire rain down on all their heads!!!!  LOL  See those two cowering in the foreground above?  Not participants...audience members!!!

Here's a video of it.  One from Youtube since mine aren't up yet...

So, as you can see you have to be a little bit crazy to stand in the middle of all THAT!!!!  And since we were, we had an awesome time!!!!

The thing that got us, was they have a different correfoc for the kids, called La Petit Diablo, or The Little Devils.  Seriously, they send their kids out with these things!  We watched them get ready and we knew there was going to be something odd when we saw this guy call a little boy--about seven I'd say--over to him and spray him down with something (water?)  Then he sprayed himself down.  Which made us think...

If they are so worried about catching on fire...what about the rest of us?  ROTFL!!!!

I did get a bit singed.  A stray spark hitting my cheek now and then, but it was all in good fun and being in the middle of it, especially since we had NO idea what to expect was quite an adventure.  I highly recommend getting out and seeing this kind of stuff if you ever have a chance.  Hanging with the locals is a blast!

I'll stop back another day and tell you about the rest of my weekend.  We went out of Barcelona to the monastery of Monserrat and it was a beautiful and moving experience.  But until then, you all have a great rest of your week.  I'll be back on Friday with something to lighten your load and make you smile.




Phylis said...

Wow! That looked intense. Looked like they were having a good time. Glad you had a good time and only got singed a little bit.

CJ England said...

It was fun. Watching those kids come out with the fireworks screaming all around us was surprising to say the least.

We thought Asia was bad, but at least in Macau they put you in a special place to do the fireworks. Here...just do it anywhere! LOL

Ray said...

There is a reason for all those rules. Half of all the lawyers are in the US.

In Tarragona, Spain there is a statue to those human towers. I took a picture, but I only got the crowd on the bottom and next row up. I also saw it for real with a bunch of teenagers practicing.

The Spanish do know how to throw a festival. We were in Tarragona on Epiphany. I was walking back down the hill from the main part of the city when I saw a parade starting up. I waited in the crowd for the parade to pass by. There were "Roman Soldiers" on horseback, several floats and a bus with seniors from a senior center. The people on the floats threw candy in the air. I was lucky enough to catch some. The bus and several trucks were loaded with presents that were handed out to under privileged kids and kids in orphanages. Every city seems to have its own fair at different times of the year.

CJ England said...

So very true, Ray.

Every place we've been we've seen some type of local fair or festival. It's interesting and you can learn so much about a people when they let down their hair, so to speak. LOL

myrtle said...

WoW! That looks really fun.=D
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CJ England said...

It was, Mrytle. But scary too. We had no idea what it was all about until that first firework went off! LOL Then it was like, "take to the hills!" LOL