News, October 2004

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The other 9/11: Catalonia's national day... and other September Fiestas

For Catalonia, September 11th marks not an event in recent american history, so much as an event of equally sad significance in the own history. On that date, in 1714, at the end of the war of the Spanish Succession, Catalonia fell to the advancing Borbon troops of Castille which took over the country and did away with the governing structures of Catalonia and the kingdom of Aragon which had existed since medieval times.

A brief history of the war can be opened by looking at this collection of extracts from the Library of Congress:

It seems extraordinary that this should be the date that the Catalans celebrate, but it goes back to the transition, in 1977, when a major demonstation was held in favour of an 'Estatuto' allowing regional autonomy. Since two years later, this has been their national day and it is celebrated in generally more peaceful ways.

The concept of celebrating disaster is not limited to Catalonia. Madrid's regional fiesta is held on 2nd May, date of a one day uprising against Napoleon which was cruelly put down the following day in 1803. Two very famous pictures by Goya celebrate this event.

Other regional and city fiestas also occur in September, as everyone wants to celebrate while the weather is good and when most people are not away. Extremadura celebrates the 8th, day of the virgin of Guadalupe. Barcelona's city fiesta is the 24th, St. Michael's day, but for them more importantly the day of the virgin of Mercedes - most appropriate to today's materialist generation!

Many other towns and villages also celebrate during this month. In many cases, the fiestas are based around a virgin's day, but also around the bull cult. More: