Sant Jordi – the day for lovers in Granollers

This is one of my favourite Catalan celebrations and definitely my favourite  in Granollers

Sant Jordi RosesI love seeing the book stalls lining the streets and watching so many people buying books or just browsing through them

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The roses are not very exciting and there are never any scented ones but it still is good to see so many people walking around with a rose or even with a bunch of them!   Does this mean they have several boyfriends or girlfriends?

ImageThere were sardanas in front of the Ajuntament with a band playing and lots of people joining in the dance

Imagethis year more flags and Catalan independence stalls than ever

ImageThe feeling of Catalan pride and excitement perhaps is especially strong leading up to the possible vote for or against independence

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Palm Sunday Granollers

It’s almost Easter.  In Britain this would mean eggs and bunnies and chocolate and Spring. 

But signs of Easter start in Granollers with the appearance of stalls selling yellow decorations made from dried palm leaves. They are treated in some mysterious way to make them more yellow and then woven into shapes.  They are called palmons and palmes – the long ones are palmons and the smaller woven ones are palmes

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Boys get the long ones and girls the woven intricate ones

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They are hung out on the balconies, to protect the house and for good luck as part of a Christian ceremony to show you are part of the ancient tribe who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem.  On the Sunday before Easter, the palmons and palmes are carried by the children to church and afterwards the families meet up in the streets to take photos.

Because we have come away to Menorca, yet again I have missed this part of the ceremony but I did see the stalls selling the palms in Granollers market on the Thursday before. We have photographs of the family in the 1960’s posing in Jacint Verdaguer square with three beautifully turned out children wearing dresses and suits, the boys with sleeked back hair and angelic faces, holding their palms.

Open Night

At the end of March they had an Open Night in Granollers.  Signs everywhere told you that you could eat, sleep and shop all for 14 euros. I still don’t understand exactly what this meant – there were lots of things in the shops priced both higher and lower than 14 euros and surely a glass of cava and a tapa would be cheaper on other days?

I walked into the town centre to see what was happening. Normally the shops close at 9pm but this night they were to remain open until midnight. There was a lot of music blaring out from loudspeakers, every square had a stage and something happening, or if not, then a lot of people standing around waiting for something to happen

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In the Porxada there was a large stage and big white balloons announcing it was Open Night. Underneath people were having their photos taken on a red sofa

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A group of women walked around in wedding dresses – I didn’t know if they were theatre people hired to perform around the town or perhaps just women from a bridal shop doing a bit of promotion

There were a lot of adults and children and dogs everywhere and many queues for the popular restaurants

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Young people sat and chatted on the steps eating pizza

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I had the feeling that most people were wandering aimlessly rather like me. This suddenly helped me understand why I so often find these events strangely empty. I was thinking about Golowan and how it feels in Penzance those special days in June during the mid summer festival. There is a wildness and joy about it. But here the people seemed exactly as usual while events happened around them.  I think it is because so many of these festivals are organised by the city council. Or by the shopkeepers. The general population are not involved in creating, designing, organising, participating in them. They are mere spectators – or consumers. Granollers is a town of commerce. Everything is designed to help the businesses sell more stuff. Anything which is not going to result in selling more stuff is frowned on.  Sometimes I feel I have walked into The Stepford Wives.  To be fair I do know lots of people in Penzance and that livens it up for me while here I was amongst strangers.  For local people it is a good chance to meet and chat. And everything looked very pretty.

This building in the Porxada for example

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When the day of Sant Jordi arrives it is obvious that the stalls are just promoting the selling of more books and roses. There is very little space for individual creativity or originality. We’ll see that soon – on April 23rd. I still enjoy that day though.

This was my favourite street – it looked lovely but there were hardly any people down here

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As I walked home I saw these posters written by one of the more lefty political parties

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It was true – once you walked out of the centre of town there was no sign of Open Night. It was all designed to bring people into the commercial shopping centre and persuade them to spend money.