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Catalan flower power

The Enramades of Arbúcies, a small town near Girona, is one of the oldest traditional celebrations in Catalonia. Each year this event takes place from June 7th to 13th. However, the most spectacular day is the ‘street flower carpet’ championship, which took place last Sunday. The neighbours from each street (including children, youngsters, adults and elders) all work together in this process.

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07 June 2012 08:55 PM

by

Jaume Macià

Barcelona (CNA).- The Enramades of Arbúcies, a small town near Girona surrounded by forests and within the Montseny Natural Park, is one of the oldest traditional celebrations in Catalonia. In 1999 it was distinguished as a Traditional Celebration of National Interest by the Catalan Government. Each year this event takes place from June 7th to 13th. However, the most spectacular day is the \u2018street flower carpet\u2019 championship, which took place last Sunday.


In Catalan language, the word \u2018enramades\u2019 comes from the verb \u2018enramar\u2019, which means to decorate with branches. This is what people from Arbúcies have been doing for more than 500 years in the streets of their town to celebrate the Corpus Christi Festival.

Despite the religious origin, in 1977 the Enramades changed the processions for a popular parade with cheerful music. The flower carpet designs started in 1947. Originally the streets were covered with flower offerings that people took through to the Corpus Christi procession.   

The flower carpets championship

The \u2018Natural Flower Carpet Championships\u2019 is organised by the Town Hall and the Arbúcies neighbours\u2019 association on the first Sunday of June. Flower carpets are the result of a collective work that starts with the harvest of the flowers, continues with their selection, the design of the carpet and final production. The neighbours from each street (including children, youngsters, adults and elders) all work together in this process. Each year this celebration attracts thousands of visitors.

In the afternoon a jury awards the best flower carpet awards taking into account the originality, design and the variety in the usage of flowers of the Montseny Natural Park. This year 23 flower carpets covered the narrow streets of Arbúcies, of which 11 took part in the championship.

According to Toni Vidal, from the Arbúcies Town Hall, \u201Cthe design of the carpets is totally free. The organisation only suggests a motif which may appear at one end of the carpet. For example, this year it was the 40th birthday of the village\u2019s association of giants made of papier-mâché\u201D.

Most of the flower carpets don\u2019t have any message but some others express political ideologies. The best flower carpet award of the 2012 championship was given to a work called \u2018Hidraulic Tiles\u2019, based on the pavements made of hydraulic tiles, very typical of Catalan Art-Nouveau architecture (used by authors such as Antoni Gaudí). This flower carpet was made by neighbours from Sorrall Street, the same street that won the championship in 2011.

Flower carpets for social integration

Most of the people that take part in the celebration are not concerned about having a prize or not. For Abdelooziz Mohamadi, president of the Morocco Association of Arbúcies, this celebration is a way of integrating all the immigrants living in this Catalan town. He says that \u201Ctoday, many people from Morocco participate in the elaboration of the flower carpet of our association but in the future I hope there won\u2019t be any differentiation\u201D.

This celebration is also a chance for the members of the Elders Association of Arbúcies to take part in the village\u2019s social life. Lluís Danís, the president of this association, assure that \u201Cmany elders of the village have been working on the carpets preparations for weeks\u201D.

Flowers, a common denominator for all celebrations

Probably the most important flower carpets championships in Catalonia take place in Arbúcies and Sitges (a coastal town south of Barcelona). However there are other celebrations, which have their origin in the Corpus Christi, consisting in covering the streets with flowers in Italy, Mexico, Colombia and other South American countries.

Flowers are a common denominator for celebrations all over the world. In Holland, the country of tulips, there are many flower parades (called \u2018Bloemencorso\u2019 in Dutch). In this kind of parades, floats, cars and boats are magnificently decorated or covered in flowers. Each parade has its own character, charm and theme. Most of the \u2018Bloemencorso\u2019 take place in the Dune and Bulb Region, placed between the towns of Leiden and Haarlem. One of the most important parades is the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek, which takes place in April.

In France there is a championship for the town or village with the best decoration in flowers. It has been celebrated since 1959 and it aims to promote de development of green spaces in villages and towns. Around 4,000 villages take part in this initiative each year.  

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  • Some carpets have satyrical motives (by J. Macià)

  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)

  • The festival promotes social integration (by J. Macià)

  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)

  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)

  • Some carpets have satyrical motives (by J. Macià)
  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)
  • The festival promotes social integration (by J. Macià)
  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)
  • One of Arbúcies flower carpets (by J. Macià)