The devil, the cloud and a few tears – Normalitas

What do cellophane clouds, fiery devils and planetary systems have in common?

If you started Carnival, almost.

(I’d kick Terry Gilliam, but I’m romantic)

Here in Spain, carnival is not like Aqueeeela Date Do Corazón as it is for us in Brazel. Honorable exceptions can be the internationally renowned carnivals in Tenerife or Cadiz.

Despite this, the real truth is that, in the partial but consistent perception of this immigrant talking to you, Spaniards are revelers. I have never seen so many street parties like here.

The annual calendar of popular festivals includes hundreds of them, large, small and small. In part, motivated by the deep religious-Christian history of the country, with a homage to a saint, a biblical date and the like.

But there is something for everything: a party to open spring, to end the summer, to honor the patron of the city, to celebrate the mushroom harvest (the ones we eat in Stroganoff, guys), to make a tomato fight (the famous Tomatina, in Valencia) etc.

Tomatina Festival, Bunol, Spain (Reuters / Juan Medina)


The pandemic, of course, affected the usual pace of the Spanish fiesta. In 2020, everything is canceled.

This year, in August, some celebrations are finally starting to resurface here and there, although it depends a lot on the location – Madrid, for example, has suspended the main popular festivals of the month for the time being, out of daily prudence.

Carnival on the island of Tenerife, Spain. It looks a bit like ours (AFP PHOTO / Desiree Martin)

In Barcelona, ​​the great popular festival of August takes place this week until next Saturday (21), after a last completely virtual pandemic edition (aka: it did not take place) in 2020.

It’s the “Festa Major” (big party) in the very Catalan district of Gràcia.

Where, of course, I saw the devil, the cloud, the rainbow and more.


Big parties are a Spanish classic. They take place in different parts of the country throughout the year. Each district, district or municipality can have its own, with its own dynamics and particularities. Some traditions date back at least to the Middle Ages.

Great Feast of Gràcia, 1915 (Reproduction)

And the cool thing: almost always, locals and local businesses themselves participate in the organization, decorating the streets and organizing small concerts (concerts, what were that?) And “bars” (counters). bars) to serve drinks and “tapas”.

In Barcelona, ​​with its 10 neighborhoods and 73 neighborhoods, there are around 20 of the biggest parties throughout the year. The most famous is undoubtedly that of Gràcia, celebrated for more than 200 years.
Walking around the Gràcia 2021 festival is a bit magical. I say you.

Even more this year, when he reappears with a taste of a phoenix.

Grand Festival de Gràcia, Barcelona, ​​2021 (Susana Bragatto / Folhapress)

Grand Festival de Gràcia, Barcelona, ​​2021 (Susana Bragatto / Folhapress)

There is something simple and touching about the cellophane and papier mache themed decorations hung between counters, above floor lamps, intertwined with blinds and electric wires.

Some remind me of the art class work in school.

Others look like protospielbergian adventures.

But most are halfway between the care of hands not necessarily expert, but loving. The result is a flashy ensemble, which offers us critical-bags-which-don’t-have-everything like me with an immersive hallucinatory mezzo, poetic mezzo.

Amid the chaos of the festive streets, locals set up tables in the street and celebrate the effort (sometimes months) with a feast for themselves and their friends. I want to become an initiate like this someday. Hay than living in Gràcia.

Grand Festival de Gràcia, Barcelona, ​​2021 (Susana Bragatto / Folhapress)

Grand Festival de Gràcia, Barcelona, ​​2021 (Susana Bragatto / Folhapress)

Each street has a different wave. A pot of paint that spits a thousand colors above our heads; planets and meteors bathed in sci-fi lights; endless garlands of flowers, octopuses, dragons.
When the party is over, anyone can knock on the association’s door in the street and ask for a piece of the keepsake decoration.

My Catalan friend had already chosen what she wanted to order: a long braid of flowers and sheets of paper.


I remember my first big party in Gràcia, in 2000 and something like that. You couldn’t walk in the street with so many people. And the scenery was barely visible, with so many drunk tourists lifting mugs of beer. I ended the night drenched in beer, and I’m not even in beer, chaval.

I also barely listened to the music with such a racket of happy people.

The only experience in my life that compares to this hip pre-pandemic block party is the Carnival of Olinda, when, once, I was carried by the autonomous movement of the crowd as I sucked on a cajá ice cream. (personal exploits, let’s talk) about them).

Ah, Brazel.

It’s cool, but at this post-pandemic time it’s different.

This year, in Gràcia, there was only one line to enter each of the decorated streets. It’s more organized, more content. But still so beautiful.

Because the popular party, guys, for me is more than a beer bath and a few puffs or a family outing. More than ever, in these too surrealistic times, they perhaps also offer the opportunity to evoke this tear so long kept in the corner of the eye, inspired by the indescribable sensation, but warm and fraternizing, of belonging to the play of the world, in the time of the winds, the swaying of crepons.

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