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Festivals in Spain: La Patum de Berga 2011

Festivals in Spain: La Patum de Berga 2011
Festivals in Spain: La Patum de Berga 2011

La Patum de Berga is a unique grand celebration, which takes place in the Catalan city of Berga from Thursday to Sunday during the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (in 2011 it falls on June 23). Its roots lie in the distant past, when during the holiday in the city marched a procession of priests, who were reading the Holy Scriptures. They were accompanied by men with huge drums (tabal) and it is believed that the holiday was named after the sound of these drums - pa-tum, pa-tum. In the evening on the streets were staged mysterious shows about the struggle of good against evil. However, over time it lost religious background, but drum procession and costumed show preserved. Later to these events added the fiery spectacle.

Now during the Patum a small city of Berga is filled with tens of thousands of tourists. But there are no spectators during the festival, because averyone become its participants. During the holiday in the city march several costumed processions. El Tabal (drums), Turcs i Cavallets (Turks and horses), L'Àliga (an eagle), Els Nans Vells (old dwarfs), Els Gegants (Giants), Els Nans Nous (new dwarfs). All names reflect the costumes, which wear the marchers, and because some of the processes take place simultaneously in one place the streets are turned into a real chaos. The apotheosis of the holiday is Els Plens (devil's lights), when late-night town is filled with people in devil costumes with crackers and fireworks. Then everyone put scarves on their faces (to protect from the fire) and it becomes impossible to distinguish the participants from viewers. In addition, during Patum locals are dancing sardana - the old Catalan dance, which preserved in Berga its original beauty. According to the famous Catalan ethnographer Juan Amades, "in the country there are no other places, where the ancient dances are so impressive and grandiose".

In 1983 Patum de Berga became "The traditional festival of national interests" of Catalonia and the UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Ilya Kalachev

Date: 16/06/2011

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