Friday, April 02, 2010

April Fools and other traditions

My kids came home from school yesterday with fish. Not real fish , I hasten to add, but cardboard painted cut out non smelly ones which they stick on to your back when you're not looking. The "poisson d'avril" , on Aprils fools is traditionally when a paper cut out fish will be stuck on to your back and everyone will fall around hysterically. Ok, I've been here eight years and I don't get it either...

Down here in the deep South , Good Friday is celebrated quite oddly as well with the Procession of the Sanch taking place in Perpignan and Collioure. This slow and macabre march through the streets of Perpignan every Good Friday is a step back into medieval history.
The procession, which is a symbol of the passion of Christ, dates back to the mid 15th century , when the penitents would make their way to the gallows, accompanied by their robed executioners. All parties are robed in klu klux klan type outfits in red and black and march to a hypnotic drum beat while some religious chanting is blasted through loud speakers throughout the city. It certainly is a sight to behold but a barrel of laughs it aint ....
And speaking of funny traditions, the caganer must be the funniest religious figurine ever , the original depicts a peasant type man with his pants around his ankles having a good poo poo. There's a religious shop in the centre of Perpignan sellig relics, holy water and bibles .. In the front window , there is a selection of caganers which my two children delight in imitating every time we wander past. Needless to say, it's their favourite shop in town, along with their favourite street, Rue Dr Poo ( they're very civilised really!). This little mooning fella is to be found in all nativity holy scenes - the reason for this cheeky chappy's inclusion is a little unclear but some people argue that he represents equality of all races, creeds and people - when you gotta go , you gotta go, whether you are president or prisoner.. In any case, the little caganer has gained almost cult status in Catalonia with a very loyal following with caricatures made with Sarko, Obama and other famous figure heads.
In 2005, there was public uproar in Barcelona when the authorities unveiled a fab new nativity scene without the popular defecator. Under public pressure , they had to reinstate him the following year.
All jokes aside , the pride the Catalans have in their local tradition , folklore, music and dance is something I really admire - you ask a Catalan person if they are French and they will reply, pounding their chest " Beh non, nous sommes fier d'etre catalan" . You can't knock it.


  1. thankfully having my birthday on 31st March means I'm usually bedridden 'til lunchtime on the 1st!!

  2. that's handy! And v lucky too not to be born on the 1st!!! Can you imagine the slagging?

  3. Thank you for your posting, Karen, you write well
    Happy Easter! Erik


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