La Nit de Sant Joan

La nit de Sant Joan, és nit d’alegria
Estrellat de Flors, L’estiu ens arriba
De mans d’un fillet que li fa de guia.
Primavera mor, l’hiverm es retira.
Si arribes l’amor, mai mes moriría.

Yesterday night was the Nit de Sant Joan and Jaume Sisa composed this song in its honour. Jaume Sisa, composer and singer, has created some of the most iconic songs of contemporary catalan popular music. El setè cel, Qualsevol nit pot sortir el sol or Nit de Sant Joan belong already to the catalan collective subconscious.

Among the catalan festivities, there are two that, in my view, stand out as faithful “avatars” of the “catalan soul”.  One of them, el Dia de Sant Jordi, the day on which men give roses to their significant ones and everybody gives books to everybody, is quite well known even outside of Catalonia. Not so much with la Nit de Sant Joan, celebrated on Saint John’s eve, the night of the 23rd to the 24th of June, around the summer solstice. With roots in pagan times (probable but not proven), it is a night not to sleep…but to eat, drink, dance…a night of love…and pleasure…of fire, of fireworks and bonfires…a celebration of excess and of life.

There is a saying stating that the character of Catalonia fluctuates between el Seny i la Rauxa. El Seny, “reasonableness, integrity, common sense, right action”, would be Sant Jordi. La Rauxa, “passion, excess, sentimentality”  would be la Nit de Sant Joan.

If you ever visit our land, care to include one of these 2 festivities (or both!) in your schedule. And if it is la Nit de Sant Joan be ready to let loose because…”Si arribes l’amor, mai mes moriría.”

Advertisements

The Future of Catalonia’s Casteller

My friend and photographer Ann Gagno exhibits a set of pictures about Castellers, an old catalan tradition, in Toronto…have a look at them and enjoy 🙂  here you have the link to the Facebook page of the exhibition and here a picture of the exhibition itself.

Food Trippin'

As I open my month-long show Catalonia’s Castellers, at the Oakwood Public Library today, it brings back fond memories of things that happened that I can never immortalize in images.  As I have once said before, I went home with about 120 Gig of images and it was painful to choose one over the other.  Some of the ones that have touched me most were hard to recreate if there was no story to go with it.  I thought I’d share one today.

As I was standing by the heat of watching the Castellers de Vilafranca at Festa major de la Bisbal del Penedès, last August 2012,  a man who introduced himself as  Jeroen,  approached me because of the camera I carried.  I guess the massive long lens does merit attention and we had a lengthy conversation of what Castellers was all about.  Before we parted ways, he invited me and my…

View original post 424 more words

A Chain for Freedom

As the Wall Street Journal reports today, “hundreds of thousands of Catalans protesting what they consider economic and cultural abuse by Spain’s central government joined hands in a 400-kilometer (250-mile) human chain Wednesday to underscore their call to make this industrialized region an independent nation.  Catalonia claimed for independence from Spain

The area of what today is Catalonia was a part of the Hispanic March, a buffer zone beyond the province of Septimania, created by Charlemagne in 795 as a defensive barrier between the Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus and the Frankish Kingdom.

In 985 the Hispanic March was attacked by the Muslim general Almansur, who managed to take Barcelona, which was pillaged and sacked. Many citizens were taken prisoner by the Muslim forces. Borrell II, Count of Barcelona, sent a request for help to King Lothar III, the current King of the Western Franks, but although documents of Borrell’s refer to royal orders that must have come from this embassy, actual military assistance was beyond Lothar’s power. What appears to have been a similar plea to Hugh Capet resulted in a letter from Hugh to Borrell promising aid if the count preferred “to obey us rather than the Ishmaelites”, but in any event Hugh could not persuade his nobles to support a southern expedition. No answer to Hugh’s letter is known from Borrell, and the connection between the March and France was effectively broken. Catalan historians now consider this the point at which their nation became a sovereign power, and the millennium of their independence was celebrated in 1987″

Catalonia became part of the Crown of Aragon in 1137, when the Kingdom of Aragon and the County of Barcelona (with the County of ProvenceGironaCerdanyaOsona and other territories) merged by dynastic union with the marriage of Raymond Berenguer IV of Barcelona and Petronilla of Aragon; their individual titles combined in the person of their son Alfonso II of Aragon, who ascended to the throne in 1162. This union respected the existing institutions and parliaments of both territories.

The Crown of Aragon was a composite monarchy, ruled by one king with a personal and dynastic union of the Kingdom of Aragon and the county of Barcelona. At the height of its power in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Crown of Aragon was a thalassocracy (a state with primarily maritime realms) controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southwestern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece. The component realms of the Crown were not united politically except at the level of the king, who ruled over each autonomous polity according to its own laws, raising funds under each tax structure, dealing separately with each cortes. Put in contemporary terms, the disparate lands of Aragon functioned more as a confederacy of cultures rather than as a single country. In this sense, the larger Crown of Aragon must not be confused with one of its constituent parts, the Kingdom of Aragon, from which it takes its name.

In 1469, a new dynastic familial union of the Crown of Aragon with the Crown of Castile by the Catholic Monarchs, joining what contemporaries referred to as “the Spains”[ led to what would become the Kingdom of Spain under King Philip II.

The Crown of Aragon existed until it was abolished by the Nueva Planta decrees issued by King Philip V in 1716 as a consequence of the defeat of Archduke Charles in the War of the Spanish Succession.

As a result of that defeat, which took place 299 years ago today on the 11th of September 1714, when after a long siege, the Bourbon army of Philip V finally conquered an exhausted and defeated Barcelona, the Crown of Aragon was dissolved and Catalonia lost all its liberties, becoming a “de facto” colony of Spain, situation that remains unchanged today.

With today’s human chain Catalans strive to continue a path towards total independence from Spain and to be able to make of Catalonia a new state in Europe.

TYR 4 October 2012 reads

Spanish Prisoners @ NYT The catalan secessionist movement has sound economic, cultural and historical roots. It should be respected. In all aspects but name, Catalonia is a colony of Spain.

Chart Of The Day: The Rise Of Global Central Planning @ Zerohedge It starts like this…”there was a time when the world had (somewhat) free markets.”. The article does not contain a lot of information, but it conveys the idea with perhaps the most explanatory power in order to comprehend the present crisis: western societies are fast morphing into a neo-feudal regime, confiscatory, unelected, undemocratic, repressive, where central banks play the role of exercising the power usurped to individual citizens and democratic institutions. Behind the central banks, the real “owners” of power, a financial elite that in many ways remains hidden. The process started with the Magna Carta goes into reverse.

French Economy Implodes @ Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis the Markit Composite PMI sports the steepest rate of contraction since March 2009 with job losses accelerating at the fastest pace in 33 months and output plunging at the fastest rate in 42 months.