Please excuse the title which lacks in creativity but honestly, who wants to spend hours dwelling on the perfect title? Let’s just get rolling 🙂 Barcelona is such a colorful city bursting with beautiful cultures and stories, desperate to be unfolded.
Let’s begin with my favorite story which is about love 🙂 Instead of Feb 14th, Catalans, like the Chinese, celebrates a different Valentine’s day which is Apr 23rd, St George’s day. A day where men give women roses, pretty standard procedures, and women has to return the men with a book. Yep, not a typo.
Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man on a white horse (duh, his name is George) who rescued a beautiful damsel in distress (argh, woman who always get themselves into trouble) by slaying a dragon on this day. So there you have it, Prince + Princess – Dragon = cliche, but no, the story doesn’t end here. As the dragon’s first drop of blood oozed out and fell to the ground, the vicious droplet transcended into a blood-red rose. George picked it and gave it to the princess and they lived happily ever after. So there we have the rose. But why a book? I don’t really think it make sense but our tour guide said it’s because Shakespeare was born and died on this very same day…erm either way, I’d love to receive a book as present in any day 😉
Christianity has always been a fundamental part of European cultures . You may notice that ancient Catalan chapels around here look quite different from how you picture a church traditionally. It is much more modest and squared; rather wide than it is tall. This is because 1) they were poorer at that time, and 2) they believed these structures symbolize that God’s power is pressing down from above whilst more modern interpretation is that the taller a church rise and stretch towards the heaven, the closer we are to god. That’s the beauty of religion; everyone can interpret it differently yet getting the same kind console from it nonetheless.
Going along with religion, let’s talk about death. The tower here is where the executioners lived in the old days and there is an interesting tale behind it. They have to live away from communities as his job is highly sensitive. He does his job while covering his face so no one actually knew who the executioner was. The bonus point about this job is: you get to keep the dead body you killed! YAY. Why? Because dead bodies are priceless back in the days. Especially the feet…creepy, but it’s because of a tradition where people keep dead people’s feet next to their door so bad spirits will walk away from their house. Hope that gave you a good visual 😉 Human bones, eyeballs and all sorts of weird parts were made for other useful charms too, well I mean back then it’s not like people can donate and transplant organs yet, so might as well put them into good use I guess?
An interesting catalan tradition is the human tower. And it literally means, people stepping on each other’s shoulder to form a tower up to 8 storeys high! How tall is that you may ask, well check out the sculpture below.
This practice is usually done next to the City hall or other government buildings as this signifies that when the working class unite, they can rise up as high as the Government/ upper class. This is serious business as people have died from it. Note that the person at the very top is always a young child, 7-8 years old who will climb through the adults without any safety equipment but a helmet. To me it sort of symbolizes that the kids, our future generation, has the ability to human race’s advancement and evolution. Not through pressurized, elite education system but their immense imagination and hopes that children are naturally gifted. (Yes, my dear twin bros, your sissy have high hopes for you dummies.)
I’m only good at eating, but not describing flavors, so just take a min and imagine the divinely salivating dishes by starring at below photos. Of course, there were much more but I was probably too hungry and forgot to take a photo
One last fun fact to end the post, did you know the Eiffel Tower was meant for Barcelona originally? The Government at that time thought it too ugly and out of place so they told the designer to bring it elsewhere. Well, now Paris has the Eiffel Tower forever 😉 Also goes to show persistent is the right attitude, if Mr. he-who-built-Eiffel-Tower gave up when he was rejected, the world wouldn’t have this iconic landmark today! Note to self: it’s always too early to quit what’s worth doing.