This Sunday, known as the Day of Santa Tecla, and the sun was napping behind the covers of an unusually overcast day. How long did last night last we don’t know but the general rule of thumb is that you take a four hour snooze and then rise again with a helping of Chartreuse.
Everyone walks around with beady eyes and a grin and a big grin because it’s all about to start again and it’s only just past nine on o’clock. One particular musician keeps catching our weary eyes – one with big bushy hair, stubbles growing at an alarming rate and eyes kept open by through share heroic effort. When Tarragona Blog reached the Cathedral he was there fooling around with a trombone to the amusement of his fellow musician. All the other elements and dancers forming the Popular Retinue (Seguici Popular) were there ready to take off again.
So off went the Diables, the Eagle, Ox, Dragon and Vibria, the Angry Mule, Lion and Cucafera Dragon (looking a bit worse for wear). SinceTarragona Blog loves the Cucafera Dragon here is some more information: despite her somewhat cuddly appearance the Cucafera represents nothing less than the forces of evil and hell. In the old days (she dates back to at least 1383) if people did not take off their hats at her appearance she would extend their neck and size the hats away – currently she is much more sociable and her breath carries candies which she exhales in to the crowds. Because she rather large it takes seven people to carry her around so if you peep down below she looks a bit like a squashed centipede. We keep referring to her as a she because there is a mini Cucafera which is used during the children’s Santa Tecla who call the Big Cucafera Dracon her mother. But technically she is probably more of an it.
As the Cucafera disappeared in to the crowds by the Giants and Dwarves appear again and finally the dancing groups which got eaten by last night crowds and had only just regained some kind of visibility. The Seven Cardinal Sins are probably the most emblematic one; first recorded in 1407 half of the group ( the Virtues) bears white dresses and angelic masks, while the other (the Seven Cardinal Sins) is covered in dark garments and a demonic, animal like mask. To the uninitiated they could have just escaped a Dr. Who episode.
The beautifully restored Cathedral was open for service with the whole city council attending; on display
was the holy relict, the finger of Santa Tecla encased a glass vial set inside the silver cast of a hand. Many lined up in front of the main altar kiss the silver casement to show their devotion to the saint and patron of Tarragona. It was such a world away from the boisterous streets, a place of peace ad hushed echoes.
Back in to the daylight and verging on exhaustion Tarragona Blog made its way to Placa de la Font to watch the Castells. On the main platform the Diables were just saying goodbye by delivering some satirical verses and disappearing in to a puff of light and smoke. We waited for the Castellers and it got crowded and more crowded, you could not move. Squashed next to the Colla Jove we stayed long enough to watch them complete yet another magnificent castells but a Blog is only human and there is only so much crowds it can manage. We would be back at 7pm in preparation for the grand finale.
There was, however, one more treat in store for the morning: as we were walking back via the Rambla Tarragona Blog caught the wiff of fresh bread backed in a portable wooden oven by an enterprising baker. We got the most fragrant, warm, savory buns we have ever come across here and they could not have sold fast enough. As fast food goes these were top!