Fireworks-shooting dragons, demons, giants and dwarves attract thousands to Catalan city Berga's La Patum festival that has survived 600 years unchanged
- The revelry of Catalonian city Berga's La Patum festival has taken place largely unchanged since 1454
- The festival culminates in a parade of effigies representing a range of figures, often shooting flames
- Originally a Pagan festival, it has picked up Catholic elements but essentially remained true to its roots
- UNESCO declared the five-day festival a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The festival’s origins date back to the Middle Age processions that marked Corpus Christi, which included theatrical performances and massive effigies being held aloft - and very little was different as thousands gathered in the city on Friday for its famous closing parades.
While these kinds of celebrations were once widespread throughout Spain, only Berga, for which the earliest recorded performances of this kind date back to 1454, has kept the cultural and religious celebration alive in this form.
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Unesco in 2005 declared the five-day festival a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The modern format brings together throngs of locals and visitors to revel in live music from the moment the large ceremonial drum, the Tabal, appears until the final parade of ‘balls’ – effigies all with their own meaning, most of which happen to shoot sparks at party-goers.
A number of events take place during the week but none more significant than the ceremonial Patum with the ‘balls’, including flaming maces, fire-breathing dragons both giant (Guita Gran) and small (Guita Xica), a massive eagle, fire demons (Plens) and huge Saracen-styled characters held above the crowds.
Each are the centrepiece of their parade with different music and performances taking place before converging for a final dance, known as the Tirabol.
The festival began as a Pagan celebration but, as Unesco explains, has had elements re-interpreted later by the Catholic Church but is lauded for the fact that it’s continued largely unchanged for about 600 years.
The double-edged sword of its popularity is a worry – with its spectacle an attraction for tourists worryingly devaluing it as a coming together of the community.
‘Patum of Berga is however threatened by transformation, distortion and loss of value in a general context marked by strong urban and tourist development that tend to reduce the Patum to a mass phenomenon,’ states Unesco in their 2005 proclamation.
‘These factors risk denaturing the Patum ritual by encouraging its organization in areas and at dates that are not authentic. Moreover, the hundred year-old Patum figures that require care and restoration by artisans who possess specific secular knowledge and know-how, risk being replaced by modern replicas devoid of all artistic and historical value.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3112605/Fireworks-shooting-dragons-demons-giants-dwarfs-attract-thousands-Catalan-city-Berga-s-La-Patum-festival-survived-600-years-unchanged.html#ixzz4ARwQValw
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