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Horses, ponies and carriages brave the rain at Barcelona’s 'Tres Tombs' parade

The 188th edition of the traditional ‘Tres Tombs’ animal parade, in honour of Saint Anthony the Abbot, took place in Barcelona last weekend. In Catalonia, he is the patron saint of the animals. The parade includes a blessing of pets ceremony. Traffic was stopped in the main streets of the Catalan capital’s Ciutat Vella district and in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood to give way to another kind of vehicles: donkeys, ponies, horses and old carriages. Although a popular festivity, this year’s 'Tres Tombs' couldn’t keep a hold on its audience as the cloudy morning became a very rainy day.

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21 January 2013 09:08 PM

by

ACN / Ana Macías

Barcelona (CNA).- Saturday morning and there were no cars or motorbikes driving on the streets of central Barcelona. From St. Antoni Market to Jaume I Square, traffic was stopped to give way to another kind of vehicles: donkeys, ponies, horses and old carriages. They were all part of the parade of the 188th edition of the 'Tres Tombs de Sant Antoni' of Barcelona. The 'Tres Tombs' parade part of an old Catalan tradition in honour of St. Antoni Abad, patron saint of the animals, which includes the blessing of pets ceremony.


Although a popular festivity, this year\u2019s 'Tres Tombs' couldn\u2019t keep a hold on its audience as the cloudy morning became a very rainy day. The parade caught the eye of the occasional passer-by and tourist but only a few people stood along the pavements to see the carriages due to the downpour.

A tradition of centuries

In Barcelona's case, the 'Tres Tombs' takes place on the Saturday after St. Anthony's day on the 17th  of January, but in other towns and cities of Catalonia it takes place the Saturday before or even on the same day. In cities like Igualada or Vilanova i la Geltrú the 'Tres Tombs' is an event in its own right, but in Barcelona it is a highlight of the St. Antoni neighbourhood festivities.

The tradition has roots in Catalan countryfolk and is a tribute to both country life as well as to Saint Anthony. That explains why the parade's carriages look like colourful vegetables or barrel carriers from last century.

The 'Tres Tombs' gets his name because of the three laps the parade used to take but in Barcelona this was changed to a longer walk from the Calabria and Floridablanca street crossing as far as the Barcelona Town Hall stables.

In olden times St. Anthony's day was also the butcher's day and it was forbidden to slay any animal on the 17th of January. Nowadays this part of the tradition remains forgotten.

Animal festivity

"This is not just a celebration for the animals, it's for their owners and all those who used to use them to work" said the journalist Mari Pau Huguet, who gave a speech at the opening ceremony in Calabria street. The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, was also at the opening and thanked the effort of the St. Antoni associations, most of them volunteers.

The first riders of the parade were the red-and-white lancers of the city police, the Guardia Urbana, and the horsemen of one of Spanish police forces, the Guardia Civil. They were followed by a statue of the saint, music and carriages of different societies with horses, donkeys and ponies dressed in shiny tinkle bells and cheerful colours. The parade was brought to a close by the Society for Guide Dogs.

The parade passed in front of the Saint Anthony Church 'Escola Pia' where the priest spread holy water in order to bless it. Once the parade had passed, many people brought their pets in order to get the blessing too.

A rainy day

A few raindrops began to fall early morning, but during the festivity it turned into a downpour. The rain and the grey morning kept the people away so the celebration didn\u2019t have a great audience. The wet streets endangered the parade many times when some horses and donkeys slipped. There was another tense moment when a horse got nervous and suddenly ran for a few yards in Catalunya Square.

Despite the cold, there were still some people waiting for the sweets to be thrown from the carriages. The ponies were received with exclamation from the passers-by.

To end the festivity, the Cakemakers Society of Barcelona offered the traditional crown cake called the 'tortell de Sant Antoni', during the closing ceremony at the Town Hall.

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  • An old carriage parading along Barcelona's Rambles (by A. Macias)

  • The animal parade passing across Ciutat Vella (by A. Macias)

  • An old carriage parading along Barcelona's Rambles (by A. Macias)
  • The animal parade passing across Ciutat Vella (by A. Macias)