Festa Major - Manresa

August 1995 by Dave Ellis

It all started innocently enough, as an invitation to help carry the Sheffield Giants in Catalonia.

We had the usual endurance test of a coach trip to Manresa and were greeted by our hosts for the Festa.

This process felt like being adopted. We soon found that Our hosts were a lovely couple who spoke no English, though this was not a problem for long. They made sure that we were fed and rested, and showed us round Manresa (a beautiful hill town, near Montserrat.)

Next, the Giants were brought out, and the Festa began in earnest. The Giants were taken to the town hall, and a civic reception was held. Following this, they were paraded through the streets and danced in another square. (My chronology may not be accurate, as events were moving quite rapidly.)

The Sheffield Giants group were extremely well rehearsed, and gained a great deal of admiration and respect from the Catalonians. Their presentation was fairly formal, as with most Catalan giants, with a well choreographed dance for the set pieces in the square. Even so, they managed to convey a distinctly English feel.

In all there were (by my count), eleven giants, six nans, one large wooden eagle, and a unicorn in the parade, together with assorted morris-men, folk dancers, and a troop of soldiers on hobby horse.

The highlights of the parade, for me were the pigeon, which with expert timing, landed on the Eagle during its dance, and the privilege of being invited to lift the Geganta antica (very similar to the Clean and jerk in weight lifting).

In the evening, we were taken to the barbecue which was typical, meat, bread, tomatoes and wine.

At this point three of our group were greatly honoured to be invited to carry a dragon in the Mostra (Fireworks and show in the Square) the following evening (Great honour, here's your fire resistant kit, sign this and have some more wine...). The dragon's name, we were told was &34;DESTROYER&34;, I got the impression that this was what it did to the carriers!

So, three of us, the following evening, joined the crew carrying Destroyer in the Mostra. This was a kind of symbolic play in which (as far as I could gather), the devil released Fire into the World, two dragons fell in Love, and a larger dragon (Destroyer) was also released. (Or something like that!)

Anyway, great, and hazardous fun was had by All, and at the end we were told to keep our kit, as this was by way of rehearsal for the Correfoc (literally, Fire running).

Sunday was for taking the Giants out to the main square for showing off amid much Castilla building, and celebration. Also, the Sheffield giants were made Godparents to two new giants which were made especially for children to carry.

Sunday evening was a huge firework display, out by a local reservoir in a park. It was the most spectacular display I have ever seen!

Monday we visited Barcelona which was as beautiful as ever. In the evening ...THE CORREFOC. We joined our Crew for the dragon, and processed it through the streets, which seemed to rain fire most of the time, and sometimes erupted completely! People were actually dancing under the showering sparks, and didn't seem to care... MAD! ALL MAD...!

The whole event defies description.

Tuesday was another civic reception, more intimate this time, and the speeches were so short that we finished early. We had two hours to spare so they decided that there was time for a Brewery trip. (A vineyard to be exact). This took three and a half hours but no one seemed to care.

Finally we finished the day with a big party for us and all the Hosts and people involved. This was the point where I ended up meeting the Mayor who was such a nice bloke I bought him a drink.

Well, that's about all, but if You are ever invited to Catalonia, GO !

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