La Festa de Sant Medir

Wednesday I awoke to rain…again. Shocker I know! But not going to let that get me down, no way!! Alefiya was coming again and so I needed a game plan for my 3 ½ hrs of freedom. First off I needed to run an errand for Aidan’s school and then secondly, I needed to book a hotel for our trip to Valencia later this month. I’ve been procrastinating this hotel booking and why I’m not sure. But more on that later. Anyways, before Alefiya showed up, I happened to look out the window of my office and what did I see??? Horses! Yes horses! About a dozen of them just lined up on my street.

Need I remind you that I live in the center of the city so other than the occasional police horse that I might see in a park, horses are not commonplace where I live.

It turns out that today is the Festa de Sant Medir – the sweetest festival in Barcelona. It is considered the sweetest festival for the 100 tons of sweets they give out to the people of Barcelona.  Now when I say give out, I really mean throw at you with all their might.  I’d be surprised if there aren’t several emergency room visits during this festival for eyes poked out with candy!  However, the daytime version of this festival is much more low key as far as the whipping of candy, it is more of a tossing for the young children in attendance.  The one benefit to the rainy weather is that the umbrella made a really good oversized catchers mitt for the candy being tossed!  We actually attended both the daytime and evening versions of this parade yesterday.

Before I go into the experience of the festival I should probably mention why it is that the people of Barcelona, and more specifically of the neighborhood of Gracia, celebrate Sant Medir with this parade full of sweets.  From what I’ve learned on the web (because that’s where we learn everything these days, in this case, the legend of Sant Medir is about a farmer who became a saint during the persecution of Christians.  The parade started with man in the 1800s who when he fell ill, vowed that if he were to become better he would make an annual pilgrimage to the hermitage of his patron saint, Sant Medir.  When he became better and wanted to make his annual pilgrimage known to others he would beat his drum and hand out candy.  Every year more friends and neighbors would join him and before you know it, he had started an annual parade.

Very excited about seeing the horses Liam and I decided to run outside to see what was going on.  And lo and behold a parade was in the making.  There were some horse and buggies, some horses with riders (many of whom were smoking cigarettes while riding – interesting…) and lots of music – marching bands galore!  But the best part for Liam, once it got started, was that candy, or caramelo as they called them.  It took him a bit to figure out what in the world was being tossed at him but once he got it, he was all about picking that candy up off the street and putting it in the umbrella.  We didn’t stay very long for the daytime parade since it really started raining heavily while we were there so off we went for home.

Left:  This is what a float looks like in the parades I’ve seen thus far.  Right:  Liam checking out some more horses at the end of our street.
Left:  The “other” end of those horses he was petting.  Right:  The horses leaving our street – we are now on the main road across from our street to give you some perspective.
Left:  Me and my buddy Liam  
Right:  He realizes that it’s candy they are throwing!
“Oh yeah, I’m so all over this Mom…”
Some more of the parade coming down the street
This is in front of my mercat, currently closed when I took the picture, probably so they wouldn’t get sprayed with the tons of candy that is now strewn across the sidewalk and street!  Candy everywhere!

However, when Aidan came home I asked him if he would be interested in attending the evening parade (he saw all the candy scattered all over the streets and had inquired as to why there was candy there) which meant staying up waaaayyyyy past his bedtime.  And what do you think the answer was?  Claro, of course!!

After dinner we started to trek the down to Gran de Gracia where we heard the parade is at it’s best and there were supposed to be fireworks at the end.  It’s almost a mile to where we needed to go so given I had two small children with me (Josh was working late) we left oh 45 mins before we needed to be there.  Below is a map of where we were going:,+12,+08025+Barcelona,+Spain/Carrer+Gran+de+Gr%C3%A0cia,+60,+08012+Barcelona,+Spain/@41.402308,2.163191,16z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x12a4a2c716916d2f:0xd79380d214c685e6!2m2!1d2.1662604!2d41.407373!1m5!1m1!1s0x12a4a29795d26d8b:0x3cbdbea1fea05170!2m2!1d2.1559202!2d41.3995757!3e2?hl=en

When we got there, 20 minutes early, I was surprised to see that the streets were pretty desserted and was concerned that perhaps I misunderstood the info on the website.  But no, about 10 minutes later all of a sudden there were people amassed everywhere!  But it wasn’t so crowed (where we were) that it was overwhelming or any sense of fear that someone may snatch my children.

To my disappointment, though not to the kids, the parade in the evening was similar to the one in the daytime – I had been hoping for some fancier floats.  As you can see by the pictures the floats are basically trailers with a roof on them and people sit in them and chuck the candy out at you.  It was still a lot of fun and festive though.  And since we only made it for about an hour of the parade there is a chance there could have been some other, different, floats after we left.  And since it was still raining I’m not sure if they had the fireworks or not but it is Barcelona and so it would not surprise me – fire, children and festivities all seem to mix here from what I understand.

Waiting for the parade to start…
Aidan has his bag ready.  And Liam knows what’s coming… candy!!
Check out all the candy in here!!!!   On the right is the start of the parade coming down the street.
Left:  This is the man who gave Aidan the bag of candy.  Right: Another float – kids just run right up to it…though not mine, they were fearful of those who were just chucking the candy as hard as they could off the float!
Left:  During a lull in the parade Aidan ran out into the street to get even more candy!  Right:  “Yes, something I can actually eat here!”  I had to take away the hard candy because he was swallowing it whole (I think – it disappeared too quickly to be chewed or sucked on).
Drummers to start off the next section of the parade, though this is when we left so didn’t see what came after this.

All in all though it was a fantastic time and the kids had so much fun scooping up as much candy as they could.  Aidan’s bag was pretty full by the time we got home.  There was one very sweet man on a horse that saw that Aidan wouldn’t cross the barriers (in most cities the barriers mean do not cross, in Barcelona they mean who the hell cares do what you want but do it at your own risk) to get candy and so handed someone a bag full of candy to give to him.  We tried to take a handful and give it back but he told us to keep the whole bag.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the people here are just very kind to children.

I think we will all be very excited for the next festival which I believe is for the artichoke…yes the artichoke.  I’ll keep you posted on that one!


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