A festival in which men carry a huge pine tree on their shoulders, hang a cured pig's leg (jamon) from the top and try to climb up 27 meters/ 88 feet to get it. That is what sold me on moving to the small mountainside village of Matadepera outside Barcelona. I am not joking. I am a sucker for cultural festivals. I couldn't pass up the chance to live in a place with such a unique and strong (in more than one way!) tradition. And it happens tonight.
The Festa de Sant Sebastian. A 113 year-old tradition in Matadepera, Catalunya. The men of Matadepera hike up a mountain and hike down with a 27 meter (88 feet) long and 1900 kilos (4188 pounds) pine tree on their shoulders. Last night, villagers carrying torches marched and drummed through the village with a bonfire grand finale. No, not the British word for flashlight. Real, flaming torches. I told you the Catalans like to play with fire, right?! (seach my blog for diablos and correfoc)
After the tree arrives to the main plaza of the village, there will be music and dancing until 5 AM. During the following week, men will work with axes to remove the tree's bark resulting in a splinter-free climbing surface. Next, the tree will be planted with the aid of a crane. In the past, the tree has been manually lifted and planted. We've got some strong men here! But due to an accident a crane is now used. I have heard that the group who organizes this event plans to return to an improved manual planting method next year.
Watch this great video that shows the tree being brought down to the village, preparing to plant it, planting it and, of course, climbing it.
The people of my village stretch this festival to 10 days with a 76 page program agenda! I've told you that Catalans take their festivals seriously! On agenda is a medieval fair, a farmer's market, a gastronomic fair, concerts and dances. Of course, there will be gegants and a xocolatada (delicious hot chocolate and cake - free!) . The climbing contest to reach the jamon will be on Saturday, 19 January 2013. Jamon is quite expensive, might be worth having a go at a climb.
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