Well, I certainly timed my journey to Tarragona well. It usually takes me a few days to settle into my new surroundings, if not a week. Luckily for me, things went a lot more smoothly this time. Mainly due to the fact that yesterday was Catalan National Day, or ‘La Diada‘ as the Catalans themselves like to call it. What better way to dive into my new lifestyle and surroundings than celebrate a Catalonian national festival.
I didn’t actually realise it was on, only for the college telling me about it. I don’t tend to keep up to date with Spanish festivals! I knew all about Spanish culture and celebration through Barcelona though, so I knew it was going to be atmospheric to say the least.
The situation between Catalonia and Spain at the moment is very tense. Catalonia have been fighting for their independence, but inevitable failing every time. They genuinely see themselves as a different country to the rest of Spain. As far as I know, this was always a day of celebration regardless of political views. Now it has become very politically charged, but this doesn’t stop them from celebrating their culture and customs too! I don’t know too much about the history side of things so I won’t bore you with too much detail. I’ve only ever lived in cities in Catalonia though (Barcelona and Tarragona), so I’m on their side! One thing I do know however, is that it is a great day to be a flag seller! The amount of flags, big and small, around Tarragona was phenomenal. Everywhere you looked, the flag of Catalonia was being hung up proudly for everyone to see.
They are so passionate about their country or region – I’m not sure which one to call it- and they aren’t afraid to show it either. I mean technically it’s in Spain but they see it as a country as such. Maybe region is a better word? Anyway! The crowds of people roaming the streets was incredible. I didn’t see one person who wasn’t wearing the Catalonia colours, whether it be a flag, headband or face paint. They were giving away t-shirts at a stand as well, which encouraged more and more people to throw them on and support the day that was in it. The street I live in is literally a minute walk to Rambla Nova, where all this was happening. Ideal? Yes indeed!
It baffled me at how adventurous the flag bearing became. Each and every direction I looked or walked, a flag was being hung in a bizarre place. On the sails of boats, flag posts, buildings, backdrops, people, and even animals! It was so admirable to see the joy and passion people brought to this day. It in turn rubbed off on me, and it wasn’t long before I was celebrating the day like a local myself! This certainly made settling in a lot easier.
The place was packed full of stages, stalls and monuments. Musicians from genres of jazz to local Spanish music were present and very much lively. The age actually varied from musician to musician also. Some young and some old, which I thought was nice. Seeing children get up on stage and play an instrument or sing is admirable. It just adds emphasis to the fact that this is a day for everyone! People were singing, dancing and cheering! Beer stands were made available and everyone just seemed to be having a wonderful time. Stalls were situated throughout the rambla and attached streets. Stalls selling food, jewellery, flags, souvenirs and so on. One thing which I didn’t quite understand were the two enormous plastic statues that were placed near the main stage. They obviously have something to do with Catalonia but I’m not too sure what exactly! Either Way, they were really fascinating to look at.
At the end of the festival, things began to get a bit more lenient towards the political side. I found this very interesting though because I would have never been in a situation like this. It was like a celebrated political protest. Nothing nasty or vile about it. But it did have a meaning and people were very passionate towards it. Drummers came out and proceeded down the rambla. A man was up at the main stage with a microphone shouting words I didn’t understand. My spanish is far from good! People started to get really into it all, chanting and cheering. The noise was immense!
Overall, it was a great experience to be part of and one I will never forget. I’m glad I didn’t miss it! It was a joyous occasion and the Tarragona natives are so friendly and nice. They also know how to party and celebrate! Added bonus! I was trying to think of a day we have like this in Ireland, but I don’t think much compares. We have ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ which is close but people tend to get more involved in drinking as opposed to actually celebrating the meaning of the day. Maybe it’s similar to ‘Independance Day’ in America? I don’t know a lot about that either but they seem like they could be related in a way!
My favourite photo of the day goes to this dog, who joined in on the celebrations. He’s rocking that “scarf”! Also, sorry for the dodgy photography again! I’m still trying to learn!
Have you ever been in a different country while a festival or national day was occurring? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
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