Sunday 11, 11 h,
plaça de Sant Jaume
The contemporary version of the Feast of Santa Eulàlia marks its 35th anniversary with a great celebration of popular traditional culture, which awakens once more to demonstrate its vitality and creative force.
The event also pays tribute to Maria Aurèlia Capmany, one of those who led the moviment to revive these celebrations on the centenary of her birth. Barcelona’s great winter festivity also celebrates the return of a casteller group, the Castellers de Sarrià who, after an absence lasting fourteen years, once again open the season with the city’s other colles.
At Saint Eulàlia, led by the giantess Laia and with the emphasis very much on younger participants, the streets of Barcelona are filled with festive tradition: giants and giantesses, devils, dancers, dragons, eagles, lions and, most especially, mules from all over Catalonia, brought together this year in an exhibition at the Palau de la Virreina to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Mulassa mule of Barcelona.
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To celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Mulassa de Barcelona, thirteen “mules” from all over the Catalan-speaking countries take part in the exhibition Mulasses, which is open at the Palau de la Virreina until February 12.
On Friday, February 2, just as it was getting dark, the mulasses invited to take part in the show began to arrive, one by one, in the lobby of the Palau de La Virreina, which had been suitably prepared and decorated to welcome them. A few surprised tourists and passers-by on La Rambla came up to take photos with them or stroke their flanks.
At the doors of the Palau de la Virreina, Xavier Cordomí, Director of Traditional Events at Barcelona Institute of Culture’s Festival Service, welcomed the beasts and the members of the folklore groups that accompanied them. According to Cordomí, “Nowadays, mulasses play a purely festive role. However, in earlier times, like other figures in the parade, they had religious significance and even political connotations, which is why they were banned in the late-eighteenth century”.
The members of the folklore groups handled the figures with the greatest care as they were installed in their places, splendidly dressed and richly adorned. In some cases, they even combed the mules’ tails, as if they were grooming live animals. “In the olden days, mulasses were dressed in the finest and most fashionable fabrics, as if they were models, when making their public appearance in the parade”, says Cordomí, who is also director of La Casa dels Entremesos and founder of several associations devoted to popular and traditional culture.
According to Nico Alonso and Roger Herrera, members of the Colla de la Mulassa de Barcelona and the Gegants del Pi folklore groups, nowadays, “unlike the solemnity of other figures, such as Àliga, these mules have a more playful role; they scare the kids and are allowed to break the protocol and leave the parade, as well as acting as fire beasts”.
Besides the mulasses, the exhibition also features the Giantess Laia, who plays the role of host. This figure, which represents Saint Eulàlia, a thirteen-year-old girl, was made by the image-maker Xavier Jansana according to the indications of the artist Carme Solé.
The exhibition, like the parade and the demonstration of dances that will take place on Monday, February 12, are the central events commemorating the 450th anniversary of Mulassa de Barcelona. The celebrations also include a programme of activities over the course of the year. At the end of the parade, a party will begin at the Palau de la Virreina: you are all invited!
For full information about the exhibition and all the figures in it, click here.
The city also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Aureli Capmany, father of the writer, a champion of Catalan culture and leading member of the Esbart Català de Dansaires folk dance company.
Thirty-five years ago, on 12 February 1983, the First Meeting of Giants in Ciutat Vella and the Saint Eulàlia Procession took place. These events are at the origin of the Festival of Saint Eulàlia as we know it today. Until that year, the Feast of Saint Eulàlia had not been celebrated since the eighteenth century, and then in a more religious than popular spirit.
A key figure in the revival of the festival was the writer, pedagogue and politician Maria Aurèlia Capmany, who was Councillor for Culture for Barcelona City Council from 1983 to 1991, the year of her death. Radical anti-Franco activist, champion of freedom, socialist and Catalan nationalist, Capmany was a pioneer in the introduction of modern feminism to Catalonia.
Celebrations for both anniversaries will take place at ten thirty in the morning on Sunday, February 11 in Plaça Reial, as part of the 35th Meeting of Giants in Ciutat Vella.
L’Esbart Català de Dansaires commemorates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Aureli Capmany
Aureli Capmany, father of Maria Aurèlia Capmany, was one of the founders of the Orfeó Català choir in 1891, and a leading member and director of the Esbart Català de Dansaires dance company in 1909. He devoted his life to studying, reviving and promoting Catalan popular culture. On the 150th anniversary of Capmany’s birth, Esbart Català de Dansaires, accompanied by Cobla Ciutat de Terrassa, will devote a performance to him. The exhibition will take place in Avinguda de la Catedral at five thirty in the evening on Saturday, February 10.
The baroque music and dance show will be performed in Plaça de Sant Jaume on Friday, February 9 as a prelude to the “Protocols of the Eagle”.
At half past seven in the evening on Friday, February 9, half an hour before the doors of City Hall open so that the city’s Àliga (eagle) and entourage can lead a parade to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Xuriach, a dance company that studies and disseminates ancient music and dance, will perform a show featuring dances popular in seventeenth-century Catalonia.
The show will serve to present Música de Corda de la Ciutat, the city string music ensemble, which the company revived for their new album, Sonau, musichs, sonau...! The historic ensemble, which this year will accompany the Dance of the Eagle, was historically led by a master tambourine player, who played flute and drum, instruments that were combined with others from the family of the violin, mostly little-known today, such as tibles, tenorets and baixos de processó. The sounds of these “processional basses” were reinforced by harps, which were carried along in ceremonies.
Xuriach is a professional ancient music and dance company devoted to studying and spreading the practice of these arts, linking them to today’s society.