Wednesday, September 12, 2012

La Diada - Catalunya's national day


The  white mist or perhaps cloud from the sea wended its way through the bay across the beach and up the valley in front of us. We have had several misty mornings lately but usually they are all encompassing. This one was quite lovely. Perhaps it was in honour of today, La Diada Nacionale de Catalunya, which commemorates the defeat of the Catalan troops during the Spanish War of Succession. The Catalan troops that supported the Hapsburgs were defeated at the Siege of Barcelona by the Bourbon king, Philip V of Spain on September 11, 1714 after fourteen months of siege. The holiday was reinstated in 1980 after Franco's rule.

This day is very close to the heart of Catalunyans, who celebrate by hanging senyera, Catalan flags from their windows and balconies all over the Port. The four bars of red on a golden background hark back to the days of the Kingdom of Aragon. In addition to this official flag of Catalunya, we often see a variant that has an added white star over a blue triangle. This flag is a clear statement of support for Catalan independence today.

Many Catalans are strongly in favour of an independent state as the crisis continues, because Catalunya gives a disproportionate level of taxes  to Madrid in relation to the funding than it receives in return. Yesterday more than a million and a half people in Barcelona marched to commemorate La Diada and to protest the taxes. More importantly there were more Catalan independence flags flying than ever before. Twenty people from our village paid only 15€ for the return trip to Barcelona to take part in the rally.


On a lighter note the ajuntament -- town hall -- provided a sardana band for sardana, circle dances, which are closely associated with Catalan nationalism. The first dance was held in the square at noon. In the village it is always the same elderly couple who start the dance and then people join in throughout the whole dance, which goes on for some time. We noticed the couple sitting under the tree in the square ready to dance, well before time. It was lovely to see the lady, who leads the dance, kick of her shoes and dance barefoot. Shopkeepers came out of their stores and joined in the dances and then returned to their businesses.

Later it was very pleasant sitting outside having dinner, listening to the strains of the wind and brass instruments playing the sardana music and seeing several circles of dancers enjoying their summer evening.

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