THE PARADES AT VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ CARNIVAL
Carnival at Vilanova i la Geltrú is a deep-rooted traditional festival celebrated en masse by many local residents; Carnival here is characterised by its satirical nature in contrast with the exuberant and splendour of Sitges Carnival.
A pre-carnival taster is held on Saturday before Maundy Thursday, with a traditional Shawl Dance. Carnival comes into full swing, however, on Maundy Thursday with the “Xatonada”, a ritual meal eaten during Lent consisting in cod fish, salad and a sauce made from red pepper, almonds and garlic. This meal is customarily finished off with a unique alter dinner tradition in which dinner guests throw meringue at each other. The “Arribo” (Arrival) happens on Friday - a masked street procession made up of different traditional cultural groups that greet “Carnestoltes”, the Carnival King. On Saturday the Moixó Foguer makes his entrance, a species of human bird spread with honey and wrapped in feathers that jumps out of, and disappears into, a box. It is also the day of the “mascarots” – individuals wearing masks, independent of any association, that wander the streets of the city trying to guess the identity of other people without being recognised themselves.
The central and most symbolic day of Carnival is Sunday, this year February 22nd, when the streets of Vilanova are filled with traditional parades. The parades are made up of dancing couples, which belong to one of the 70 associations. Couples line up behind their respective association flags and feature a total of some six thousand people amongst kids, teenagers and adults.
The parades are set to the rhythm of the Turuta, a military march that has become inextricable linked to the Vilanova i la Geltrú Carnival, for reasons that remain unknown. The different dance couples throw sweets at the people on balconies, street onlookers and other dancers they come across. Finally, everyone comes together in the town square where a culminating parade takes place followed by the famous sweet wars. Throughout the whole day, men where a traditional Catalan “barretina” hat, a dinner jacket with a handkerchief or sash – depending on the association they belong to – and women where a Manila shawl, carnations in their hair and a skirt.
On Carnival Monday, the “Cors de Carnestoltes” (Carnival King’s Troop) is the star protagonist, consisting in masked figures that sing ironic, comical and funny songs. On Tuesday, the Viladot parade is the highlight of the day and Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival with the burial of a sardine.
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