The Day of Santa Tecla

The day of Santa Tecla begins at 7 in the morning with the toc de matinades a solemn tune played by the grallers and aimed at getting everyone out of bed. 

Then, at  8 in the morning , long tables are laid out in the streets and people tuck in to traditional hearty dishes like tripe stew and botifarra washed down with red wine and finished off with a coffee and chartreuse.

It’s the penultimate day of the festival and everybody feels like it has been going on for ever looping in one’s head in an almost Groundhog Day fashion. The strident sounds produced by the grallers as they lead each segment of the procession has sunken deep into the brain and you hear it even when there is none.  But this is the day, the day of Santa Tecla, patroness of Tarragona, whose holi relict encased in silver will be carried as part of the procession.

You truly have to admire the seguici, the elements of the entourage which will be engaged till the end of the day. They start at 11 heading from the cathedral to Plaça de la Font where a presentation of each group will take place on a stage set  in front of the town council.

While this goes on Dames i Vells perform a traditional spoken ball, the Ball Parlat, which has been going on for the past 500 years. This is a robust, raucous pantomime whose principal characters are four old men and for dames (men in drags) stopping at each turn of the ball to deliver verses laced with obscenities damming all there is wrong with the city to great merriment of the crowd.

This is followed by Castells in Plaça de la Font where the four collas of Tarragona give battle for the tallest, most complex and best executed human tower of the day.

The next big event is at 18:15 where the procession starts from Plaça de la Font and enters the perimeter of the Cathedral. From there at 7pm starts the last and most important procession of all that of the Professó del Braç de Santa Tecla.  The holy relic is carried out of the Cathedral protected by historical armed guards and a following of representative of the clergy and politicians.

At about 9.15 pm it makes it solem entry in what is truly and unforgettable 15 minutes of apocalyptic mayhem! As the relic is carried back into the cathedral human towers rise, firebeasts are set alight, bells start ringing  and a rain of golden confetti falls from the sky, and the immense crowd chants VISCA SANTA TECLA, VISCA TARRAGONA!