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Posts tagged ‘Fiesta’

Zaragoza – Day 2: La Ofrenda de Flores

Looking out of the window in the city of Zaragoza on Sunday the 12th October was a bizarre experience. On the streets there was not a single car or vehicle which resembled modern times, but instead, passers by and groups of people walked along and gathered in the otherwise empty streets wearing incredible period costume. Decked out in heavy silken dresses, embroidered cloaks, wooden clogs, extravagantly frayed shawls and floral headdresses, the inhabitants of Zaragoza looked either like they had gone back in time, or were appearing as extras in a Hollywood blockbuster. But before I could conclude that I had somehow awoken in a dream, scenes from local television flashing up on the television screen at the end of my bed betrayed the truth: that this was no Hollywood blockbuster, but an event surely worthy of the live film reel remitting images of the event onto TV screens all over Spain. Showing extraordinary images of the streets of Zaragoza packed to the rafters with locals wearing traditional costume and carrying bouquets of flowers, the cameras had captured the very centre point of the Fiestas del Pilar – the Offering of the Flowers.

Floral dedications being carried by traditionally dressed locals towards the Plaza del Pilar

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La Ofrenda des Flores (the offering of flowers) is a great demonstration of the people’s devotion to the patron saint of the city, the Virgen del Pillar, during which hundreds of thousands of people, dressed in the traditional costume of Aragon or of any other region in Spain, bring flowers to the Virgin, a statue of whom is placed in the centre of the Plaza del Pilar. Around the statue stood on high, an army of volunteers slot the flowers offered into a vast pyramidal structure, tiling a huge sloping flower mantle around the Virgin, which remains in the square for the rest of the festival so that all the people in the city can see it. From an early beginning, when the first bouquets filled the area of the mantel immediately below the glinting gilded statue, we were lucky enough to see this vast floral cape as it gradually filled with floral tributes, while thousands more offers flooded into the square, brought by locals queuing patiently in their lavish local costumes and entertained by a wide variety of superb traditional dancing and music shows.

Handing over the flowers and the vast floral mantel built around the Virgen del Pilar

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It was an incredible event to watch and be part of, from regarding the vast human river of flower-carrying locals slowly winding its passage all the way down from the main thoroughfares North of the city to the vast Plaza del Pilar, to seeing the great floral mantel slowly develop flower by flower. The air was filled with human spirit, with shared happiness and with a tangible expression of positivity and celebration, and was certainly an unmissable event in all of my adventures in Spain.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Zaragoza Focus – All the fun of the fiesta

From the moment we arrived in Zaragoza in North Eastern Spain, continuing right up to (and no doubt beyond) the time we left, the city was tangibly pumping with the rhythm of fiesta. The leafy squares and vast piazzas standing amidst Zaragoza’s world-famous cathedrals were alive with open air concerts playing throughout the day and evening; the streets were packed so full of people that it took 10 minutes to make one’s way even down the shortest; the skies periodically erupted with the pop and crackle of a distant firework display; tapas bars and restaurants were full to over brimming; and the air was filled with helium balloons of every shape and size and bubbles blown by children. And despite all of the inconvenience and noise that this festival inevitably created, there is no denying the magical atmosphere that filled the air, as the whole city seemed bound by an intangible electricity of celebration, and almost the entirety of its population came out to enjoy the party, to stroll in the crowds, to listen to the live music, to dance in the streets.

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This selection of photographs attempts to convey something of the atmosphere which filled every inch of Zaragoza when we made a visit the weekend before last. The reason for the festival was the Fiestas del Pilar, an annual ten day celebration, centred around a religious festival when huge crowds pay homage to the patron saint of the city: the Virgen del Pillar, but actually incorporating a packed programme of traditional music, modern pop, excuses to dance, and occasions to get out, eat and meet with loved ones and friends. And no wonder it was so crowded: for this annual festival is not only the biggest in Zaragoza, but one of the largest in all of Spain attracting thousands from outside of the city, and indeed the country: like us. It certainly was something unique, and made our visit to Zaragoza a hundred times more memorable.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.