National Day institutional ceremony claims Catalonia as a welcoming land throughout history
The Catalan Government and the Catalan Parliament gathered this Saturday evening in an institutional ceremony to celebrate Catalonia’s National Day. This year, the commemoration paid tribute to major migrations and claimed Catalonia as a welcoming land throughout history. The ceremony took place for the first time at the Born Cultural Centre and not on ‘Plaça Sant Jaume’, the square where Barcelona’s Town Hall and Palau de la Generalitat, the Catalan Government headquarters, are located. Some former presidents of Catalonia, such as Artur Mas and José Montilla, also took part in the event, as did most of the political parties in the Catalan Chamber. The Conservative People’s Party (PP) andSpanish Unionist Ciutadans refused to attend.
Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia as a welcoming land was the focus of the National Day institutional ceremony, which took place on Saturday night, ahead of the mobilisations and tributes planned for the 11th of September. One of the main novelties of this year’s ceremony was the location: it took place at the Born Cultural Centre, a facility located in Barcelona’s ‘El Born’ neighbourhood which shows the neighbourhood’s ruins dating from 1714, when residents were obliged to destroy their own homes after Barcelona’s military defeat on the 11th September of that year. The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, emphasised during his official speech the importance of this National Day “to face a political course in which it will be necessary to make decisions to guarantee Catalonia’s right to freely decide its way”.
The ceremony consisted of a performance, designed and directed by theatre director Josep Maria Mestres, during which Catalan actors and actresses such as Carme Elías, Pep Munné, Pep Planas, Mireia Illamola and Artur Raurich read passages from literature authors like Mercè Rodoreda, Pere Calders, Antonio Machado, Francesc Candel and Jordi Puntí.
A solemn mise-en-scène aimed at recalling some of the mass migration flows that have made an imprint on Catalan society: from the arrival of the Roma people in Catalonia, six centuries ago, to the Jewish migrants that fled to escape Nazi persecution, the ‘allez! allez!’ of the Republican diaspora during the Spanish Civil War and the arrival of people from Andalusia and Murcia to work in the construction of the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition.
Music, dance and storytelling were the protagonists of an event that also evoked Syrian refugee’s flows through the Mediterranean Sea and that claimed Catalonia as a multicultural nation.
The official ceremony concluded with a performance of the Catalonia’s national anthem, ‘Els segadors’. The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, the Bishop of Solsona, Xavier Novell, the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raul Romeva and the President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC ), Jordi Sánchez, also attended the event.
Carles Puigdemont gave his first Catalan National Day speech
Before the commemoration, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, gave his first institutional speech on the occasion of Catalonia’s National Day. From the Generalitat Palace, he regretted the Spanish’s Government attitude and stated that “the Spanish State is disconnecting from its responsibilities and obligations towards Catalonia, ignoring the services that under law it is obliged to provide, regardless of political circumstances”.
Puigdemont also stressed the importance of this National Day “to face a political course in which it will be necessary to make decisions to guarantee Catalonia’s right to freely decide its way” and called on all Catalans to celebrate the 11th of September “with civility and joy, showing the best side of this country”.