Memories of Past Splendour

It is a dull grey morning in Granollers and after a mild winter and a few sunny months it is a shock to return to winter.

There is a north wind from the mountains and the tables outside cafes are deserted except for determined smokers.

I always look up now.  Many of the buildings are boring at street level but one floor up there is a feast of detail.

The building at the beginning of the pedestrian street is called  Casa Miquel Blanxart i Estapé and is one example of early 20th C modernism in Granollers.

Today looking up I saw clearly the silhouettes of three women on the front walls. Their arms are outstretched and it looks like they have birds sitting on their hands.

Casa Miquel Blanxart i Estapé

Are they always visible or was it a trick of the light on this damp dull day?  It looks like there were originally sculptures there or were they designs painted directly on the walls?  I don’t know but it was interesting to see how they had left their imprint.Image

The Burial of the Sardine

At last I have not only seen this ceremony but I think I am beginning to understood what it is all about…..I think so……it is quite a mysterious one.

Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.   Carnival stands for a wild abandonned spirit of rebellion against tradition, allowing for colourful expressions of freedom in the streets, and the last day means a return to sober reality and so it makes sense there is a ritual symbolising a death and a funeral

Funeral of Sardine

 The Burial of the Sardine or L’Enterrament de la Sardina in Catalan is celebrated throughout Spain and there is a Goya painting of it showing many of the key figures..

Where does the sardine come in to all this?  There is still a mystery around this with one possible story about a type of pig called a sardine that was eaten on this day and another about some sardines that went off in the heat (of March?) and had to be buried.

And surely there must be some sexual interpretations?   No more sex for 40 days?

Porxada Granollers

The funeral parade carries a large stuffed figure on a stretcher around the town followed by people dressed as mourners. As they passed several of them grabbed me for a weepy hug

Granollers Carnival Children had their faces painted with black tears

Enterrament de la Sardina

Finally the figure was set alight and Carnival 2014 was officially dead

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Carnival was seen as decadent and banned under Franco’s dictatorship. It has traditionally been a time to speak out openly against politicians and for truth and people power. A time to take over the streets in protest and free expression – something that still terrifies western democracies

Granollers retains its self conscious air even when  getting dressed up to have fun and playing the fool is not something that comes naturally to locals. But Carnival is a chance to let go of your inhibitions and play. The Burial of the Sardine with its black clothing and mournful faces is perhaps also a time to reflect on how people here have a tendency to take life too seriously.  Walk through the town centre of Granollers and you might think people are dressed for a funeral everyday.

I do wish there could be more Carnival spirit throughout the year. Let’s be wild and colourful!

Funeral of Sardine