Sant Magí: holy water, militias and one big drench

Sant Magi, Tarragona, Catalonia

Sunday sees the the holy water carried to the Chapel of Sant Magí, a historical 19th century militia re-enacting their drills against the French invaders, and he day ends with an explosion of  light, music and water with thousand of people getting drenched.

Arrival of the Water of Sant Magí

There is a brisk trade going on at the Chapel of Sant Magí, situated in one of the highest point of the old city. At the far end of Portal del Carro is the chapel that becomes the focus of attention of the festivity. This is where thousand of little glass bottles and and small terracotta jugs are filled with the water, said to cure all illnesses, brought in all the way from it´s source at Brufanganya. It´s holy water on the tap and it´s sold by the thousand to believers and non believers alike (because you never know…!).  Having bought a personal sample I can cannot attest to it´s miraculous properties but can confirm that it´s flavor is unusually soft, cool and sweet with strange vanilla undertones.

The water is carried inside barrels on horse drawn carts,  its arrival is announced by horsemen and an entourage of children dressed in old fashion regalia . This is  La Pujada de Carros i Cavallers and and there is even a miniature version of the saint in the form of a child solemnly looking down and sporting a brown bushy beard! Confetti and sweets fly and the four collas, the four human tower groups representing the cities, seal the ending of the Pujada with four perfectly executed human pillars.

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Celebrating 200 years of the retreat of the French troops from Tarragona

Adding a twist to the celebrations is a historic reconstruction group of the militia which defended Tarragona from the French invadors. This sad chapter of  the city history recounts that after 56 days of siege, on the 28th of June 1811, Tarragona is conquered by the French troops lead by General Suchet. Two years later,  the night of the 18th of August, also the day of the patron saint of Tarragona, the French retreated, but not before placing a total of 23 mines around the city which were detonated  in order to cause maximum destruction. All exploded  but one and the only building spared was the chapel of Sant Magi where the bomb failed to detonate, adding to the aura of holiness of the saint.

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La Revetlla Remullada

This gargantuan event holds place at Plaça del Rey, transformed for the evening in to a bizarre Alice  in Wonderland scenario and  the largest party venue of the Sant Magí celebrations. Thousand  throw them self in to the drenching  mayhem which lasts till two in the morning.  The over sized watermelon, teapot,  shell, cartoonish  train bursting in to water explosions, square filled with cheesy pop and artificial fog. Drinks flow, it´s brilliant fun and no one gets hurt.

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