The festivals of Sant Eulàlia tip off tomorrow and will take place for the next five days until next Tuesday, the official day of the patron saint of the city. It seems each year this festival gets bit bigger and this year will be no different. As any Spanish holiday, Santa Eulàlia can’t just be celebrated one day. Years ago I remember having the 10th, 11th, and 12th to celebrate. Today we are up to the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th; FIVE full days.
Who is Santa Eulàlia and why do we celebrate her? Eulàlia was a 13 year old girl who lived in the 4th century, when the city was still under Roman occupation. The emperor, Diocletian, in an attempt to rid Christianity from his empire tortured Eulàlia thirteen separate times, the most famous of these tortures is when she was rolled down a hill inside a barrel filled with sharp objects, thirteen times. When none of the tortures were able change Eulàlia’s mind, she was placed on an x-shaped cross and stripped naked in the hopes of further humiliating her. When is snowed in Barcelona (a miracle!) and covered her body, saving her from humiliation, she was decapitated. Out of her neck flew a dove, which was seen as her soul escaping here body; there are now thirteen white geese in the cloister inside the cathedral at all times.
It was Eulàlia’s strength that made her the patron saint of Barcelona. Today she is buried inside the Barcelona Cathedral, which is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Eulàlia and the Holy Cross. For those of you lucky enough to be in the city during the celebration, many special Catalan traditions will be on display around the cathedral and throughout the Gothic Quarter.
Here is your guide on where to be and what to see.
Saturday, February 9th
From 10 o’clock until 8 o’clock in the evening there will be free entrance into the City Hall, a building that is mainly closed to the public.
Starting at 10:30 you will be able to check out some of the Gegants, typical fictitious or medieval characters who parade around the city in processions, at the Born Cultural Center until 11:15 when they begin the march towards the Plaza Sant Jaume.
The Bastoners will start up in front of the cathedral at 11h and end in the Plaza de Sant Jaume around 12:30.
Throughout the day multiple celebrations will continue to be on display, but one of the exciting celebration will be the Correfoc (fire run) in front of the cathedral at 21h.
Sunday, February 10th
The Castellers will open their season with some performances starting in the Plaza Nova at 10:15 before building their longer human towers in the Plaza de Sant Jaume at 11h.
The floral offering and dance will be held on the baixada de Santa Eulàlia at 12h, where legend has it she was rolled down in a barrel. Closing the day and allowing you to catch the typical Catalan dance, the Sardana will be on display in front of the cathedral at 17h.
Monday, February 11th
No acts are scheduled for the Monday of the festival.
Tuesday, February 12th
The actual day of celebration of the patron saint Eulàlia will close out the ceremonies will dances into the evening.
Starting at 18:30 in the Plaza de Sant Jaume, various dances, such as the Sardana will be taking place as the parade of the many Catalan characters will make their way through the streets of the Gothic Quarter towards the plaza.
I have already written about the other patron saint of the city, La Mercé, who is celebrated on the 24th of September. Legend has it that Saint Eulàlia always gets very upset when we celebrate someone else and begins to cry during those September days. Let’s hope La Mercé doesn’t return the favor… Enjoy!