BCN Life

La Mercè 2017

(EN below)

Barcelonas barrios har sine egne fiestas, som afholdes lokalt i de enkelte kvarterer. Men Barcelona har også en byfest eller festival for hele byen, som afholdes omkring helgendagen for byens 2. skytshelgen: “La Mercé” den 24. september. Festivalen – La Mercé – i helgenens ære har rødder tilbage til slutningen af 1600-tallet, og har været en officiel helligdag i Barcelona siden 1871. Den varer 5 dage med hundredvis af aktiviteter og events rundt omkring i hele byen: koncerter, optog, udstillinger, dans og generelt bare gang i gaderne. Du kan umuligt nå det hele, men skidt, så har du nemlig den perfekte undskylding for at vende tilbage næste år. Og det får du lyst til, for La Mercé er anderledes, sjov, spændende og bare en fest!.

Festivalen starter med en officiel tale fra Rådhuset på Plaza de Jaume, hvorefter fyrværkeri skyder festivalen i gang. Straks herefter åbnes rådhusets porte og et traditionelt optog med “Giganter” – store papmaché-figurer af religiøs/kulturel/historisk betydning – bevæger sig ud af portene til pladsen foran til lyden af traditionel folkemusik. Festivalens begyndelse markeres også i den gamle bydel ved at ringe med kirkeklokkerne, ligesom der danses en traditionel, catalansk dans – Sardana – foran katedralen.

I det officielle program kan du forsøge dig at danne overblik over alle aktiviteterne, det er svært, men tag bare for dig af retterne. Hvis du altså kan komme til, for der vil være tætpakket til de vigtigste events som f.eks. de catalanske traditioner: “Castellers”, hvor der bygges mennesketårne i stor højde, eller “Correfoc”, hvor drager og djævle laver optog i gaderne med fyrværkeri.

Selv var jeg inde i midtbyen sammen med en veninde for at se den officielle åbning med giganterne og Sardana. Måske mere interessant og særpræget end decideret festligt, men det var til gengæld det optog med ildspyttende drager og monstre, som vi så senere på aftenen. Her var forskellige grupper med hver deres drage/monster og hver deres orkester af trommer og percussion på optog igennem midtbyen – og det mørke aftenlys gav det hele en unik stemning.

Festivalen giver dig også mulighed for at nyde musik og andre kulturelle indslag rundt omkring i byen, som du kan nyde med dine venner eller familie. Alle er i gaderne, unge som gamle, også til ganske sent. I år var festlighederne præget af den politiske situation i Catalonien (mere herom senere), men stadigvæk i en god og festlig stemning. Så kom og vær med! Du finder mig med stor sandsynlighed også til næste års La Mercé, det vil jeg da ikke gå glip af!

Og forresten….hvorfor fejres så egentlig La Mercé?

Ja, her skal vi tilbage til festivalens rødder, nærmere bestemt 1687, hvor Barcelona led af en voldsom græshoppeplage. Byen bad derfor helgenen: La Virgen de Mercé om hjælp, og med jomfruens hjælp blev byen befriet for plagen, og som tak fik La Mercé en æresfest og blev udråbt til byens anden skytshelgen (den anden er helgeninden: Eulàlia).

EN

The barrios of Barcelona have their own fiestas, which are held locally in the each neighborhoods. Barcelona, however, also has a festival for the whole city, held around the weekend or the patron day – 24th of September – of the city’s 2nd patron saint: “La Mercé”. The festival honoring the saint – La Mercé – has roots back to the late 1600s and has been an official holiday in Barcelona since 1871. It lasts 5 days and have hundreds of activities and events around the city: concerts, shows, exhibitions, dance and just partying in the streets. Unfortunately, you can´t experience it all, but then you will have the perfect excuse to return next year. And you will want to return, La Mercé is different, fun, exciting and just a party!.

The festival starts with an official speech from the City Hall on Plaza de Jaume, after which some fireworks marks the festival´s opening. Immediately afterward, the gates of the City Hall opens and a parade with “Gigants” – large figures of religious, cultural and historical significance made of paper mache – begins to the sound of traditional music. In the old town the beginning of the festival is also marked by ringing the church bells and dancing the traditional Catalan dance of “Sardana” in front of the cathedral.

You can try to get an overview of the festival in the official program, it´s dificul but just dive in. Be aware that the important events such as the Catalan traditions of “Castellers” – building high human towers, or the “Correfoc” – parades of dragons and devils with fireworks, are packed with people.

This year, I saw the opening with the “Giants” and “Sardana” with a friend. Perhaps more interesting and distinctive that festive, but festive was the parade of dragons and monsters spitting fireworks that we saw later that evening. Here were different groups parading their special dragon or monster to the sound of their own orchestra of drums and percussion. And in the dark of night, the fireworks and the old buildings the atmosphere was quite unique.

You can also enjoy music and other cultural events around the city with friends or family. Everyone is in the street, young as well as old, and often to quite late. This year, the festival was influenced by the political situation in Catalonia (more on this later), but was still celebrated in good and festive atmosphere. So come and join in next year! I will proberly be here too to celebrate La Mercé, I wouldn´t like to miss that!

And by the way…. why do Barcelona celebrate La Mercé?

Well, here we have to go back to the roots of the festival, especially 1687, where Barcelona suffered from a plague of locusts. Therefore the city asked the saint: La Virgen de Mercé for help, and with the help of the virgin, the city was relieved of the plague. As a thank to the saint, Mercé was honered with a festival and was proclaimed the city’s second patron saint (the other is the saint: Eulàlia).

Check this year´s program here: La Mercé 2017

La Merce Barcelona 2017 Casa Battlo La Pedrera

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