Spring is a time of year rich with unique and sometimes comical festivals and ceremonies around the Mediterranean. They are a curious mix of Christian and pagan traditions, with more commercial international fixations with chocolate eggs and cartoon bunnies taking a back seat to some very odd ceremonies…
In many places around Spain, there’s the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ festival, celebrating the end of Carnival. This involves processions through towns and villages with the women dressed in black, “mourning” for the death of the past, and culminating in a funeral pyre for the “sardine”. The ceremony is rich in symbolism, with many local variations including a chosen man from the townsfolk who is briefly feted before being tarred and feathered in mock humiliation.
Other places will celebrate the season by walking around the streets in crowds throwing sweets to passers-by, whether they want them or not. While this carries the best of intentions, there are often minor casualties, with broken spectacles and chipped teeth amongst the consequences of high speed boiled confectionery projectiles.
Barcelona celebrates Sant Jordi Day (23rd April) in great style. What is better known in other countries, especially the UK, as St George’s Day, the Catalan equivalent, Sant Jordi, is celebrated as a romantic and literary combination of Valentine’s Day and World Book Day. Throughout the city, trestle tables are laid out alternately with flower bunches and piles of books – men traditionally buy flowers for their women, and women books for their men. Of course this tradition is flexible for those who prefer one gift over the other.
Getting to Barcelona is very easy, with regular flights from around the world to El Prat Barcelona Airport. Other destinations in Catalonia are served by Girona Airport and Costa Dorada Reus Airport.