My first week of classes and my internship were cut short by the National Day of Catalunya also known as Diada. This holiday is celebrated every year on September 11th. It commemorates the day Catalonia lost its independence during the war of the Spanish Succession. This year the holiday was particularly memorable for two reasons; one, because it was the 300th anniversary of the conquest that happened in 1714; and two, because this November 11th Spain is holding a referendum to determine the political future of Catalonia. Catalonia has high hopes to become an independent state, however many believe that the referendum won’t actually take place at all. It´s a very exciting time to be in Barcelona!
Anyways back to Diada. Practically every school and business shut down for the day to fill the streets with festivities. Each year a different form of non-violent protest takes place. Last year a line of people holding hands went from the boarder of France all the way to Valencia, about 400 kilometers long to symbolize the unity and strength of Catalonia. This year the streets Diagonal and Gran Via were completely filled with people dressed in yellow and red standing in specific lines to form the Spanish flag. The two streets formed a V to demonstrate the vote taking place in November.
It amazes me how such a large group of people can come together to fight peacefully for one cause. Myself and the other American students studying here got emails from the US consulate warning us to not to go outside on this holiday because there would be violence and rioting in the streets. I know the consulate was just being cautious by warning us, but they could not have been more wrong. The streets were filled with families, dogs, the elderly, and everyone in between wrapped in Spanish flags and decked out in red and yellow.
At 17:14 (5:14), the 300th year anniversary everyone began to chant, cheer, sing, and make as much movement and noise as possible as a helicopter flew overhead to capture the aerial view of the human flag and V. It was one of the coolest experiences. At the end of September is another Spanish holiday and I´m so excited to see what Barcelona does to celebrate!