On the 12th February tribute is paid to the co-patron saint of Barcelona, Santa Eulàlia, also known as Laia. The festival is celebrated in typical Catalan fashion with incredible human towers, slightly creepy dancing giants and spectacular fire-runs.
The Legend of Laia
No, not Princess Leia but Laia, with an altogether more gruesome tale. Legend has it that Laia was thirteen years old when she became a martyr for Christians during the Roman occupation. She suffered 13 horrific tortures for not denouncing her Christianity. Some of which are too gruesome to be believable, such as molten lead baths and being placed in a barrel full of broken glass and nails which was then rolled down the street. She died in the year 303 on the 12th February which is now celebrated as a public holiday in Barcelona.
Similar to the festival of Mercè which celebrates the other co-patron saint of Barcelona, events take place mainly in the centre of the city around the cathedral and Plaça de Sant Jaume.
There are many events taking place during the Santa Eulàlia festival including traditional dances, castellers (human towers) and the correfoc (fire-run).
The castellers or human towers are an integral part of any Catalan festival and are a must for anyone visiting the region. Each area of Barcelona has a team who compete against one another for the highest tower. The tower is accomplished when a small child makes their way to the top and quickly sticks their hand out to let us know the tower has been completed. After which they rapidly slide back down to safety. It is a great sight to see various towers forming so rapidly in different corners of the square.
The Falcons de Barcelona also show off amazing
human structures, which are much more than just your average human pyramid. They are different to the human towers in that it is not a competition, and they construct shapes inspired by the Catalan countryside such as the mountains. Incredible to see and more amazing yet, no one fell!
The Correfoc or fire-run is another festival tradition. This is one for the more adventurous amongst you. Groups dressed up as devils dance along to the pounding beat of drums whilst holding fireworks stuck on to the end of ‘devils’ pitchforks. “Health and Safety” would have a field-day over this, as firecrackers and sparks fly all over the place, with those stuck at the front of the crowd quickly retreating. It is best advised to keep a suitable distance.
Over the festival period Llum BCN is also held which includes spectacular light displays and installations so you’ll never be at a loss as what do over this weekend.