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Observations on a New Life in Spain

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Fiesta Mayor de Gracia

13 August, 2008 (06:20) | Living in Europe | By: admin

For the last 191 years, one of the most famous, and most wildly celebrated Barcelona festivals takes place in my neighborhood and is called the Festa Mayor de Gracia. Gracia was once a separate village, and even after it was incorporated into Barcelona, it maintained a fiercely independent free spirit. This unique character is most evident during the Festa, which takes places during the third week of August, (later this week) when almost everyone in the city has run for the beaches and the hills to escape the summer heat. Whilst the rest of the city lies empty and lifeless, the residents and lucky visitors to Gracia district pass the time with a seemingly endless street party, with music, dancing, singing and pretty much every other activity involving noise, laughter, movement or all three.

Today is Monday. There is a buzz in the air when I walk around the neighborhood, People are busy busy busy, making stages, decorating plaças and streets, hammers, bangs, buzzes, drills, laughter in the air. The neighborhood must decorate itself by Friday, as that is the the official first day of Festa Mayor. I will go out soon with my camera and get some shots of the ramp up to this year’s Festa Mayor.

When we first moved to Gracia in 2007 our street was one of the decorated ones. We were charmed to take place in a fund-raiser to raise the dosh to pay for the street decorations. We paid 15 € each, (a bit steep if it were not for a fund raiser), for the privilege of eating catalan sausages on a long dinner table set up in the middle of our street. Even though our street turned out to be one of the least hip of the 28 in competition for the prize of best dressed street, it certainly was festive looking with ballons and streamers intended to be the rainbow. Mark and I were the only 2 non catalans at the butifarrada.

That was last year. This year they have scaled down the size of the event, so in the first time in centuries our street will not be one of the decorated ones. For us this is a blessing in disguise because unlike last year, this year we will not have a stage set up right outside our front door.