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Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia’

Photo: Reuters/Albert Gea.
Reuters shows Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona starting “to form a human tower called ‘castell’ during a biannual human tower competition in Tarragona, Spain, October 2, 2022.

You don’t have to be a kid to play. Here’s a story on grown-ups having fun like kids. Of course, there are a few kids along with them, setting the proper tone for playtime.

Alan Ruiz Terol reports at Public Radio International’s The World, “A human tower rising higher than 26 feet swung perilously as 7-year-old Mar Mollà reached its top amid cheers from the crowd. 

“ ‘The views were great,’ she said later. ‘I could see all the colors and the arena vibrating.’

“[Recently] the town of Tarragona, in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, hosted a massive tournament featuring the finest teams of human tower builders, or castellers. …

“One of the teams competing on Saturday was the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia. Mar Mollà was one its youngest members. She also had one of the most difficult tasks. As she made her way up to the top of the castell on Saturday, her father, Daniel Mollà, watched nervously.

“ ‘I was worried,’ he explained, minutes later. ‘But it’s up to her; she’s the one who knows if [the castell] will fall or not.’

“To build a castell, dozens of people must stand at the base pressed against each other to provide stability, and, if things go wrong, a safety net. Others venture upward, climbing and being climbed over; forming one tier, and then another, and another. Finally, a kid crowns the human tower by raising a hand.

“Human towers are graded according to their height and difficulty. To get the full score, crowning the castell is not enough — it must be dismantled without collapsing. While falls are rare, they do occur, and kids wear helmets to avoid severe injuries. …

“Human towers are a centuries-old tradition in Catalonia, and are widely seen as a symbol of its own distinct culture and nationalist aspirations. …

“ ‘The oldest reference to castells dates back to 1791, to a local festival in the town of Valls,’ historian Àlex Cervelló said. 

“Human towers are thought to be a spin-off of a religious dance that featured acrobatic constructions known as Ball de Valencians. According to Cervelló, participants might have competed against each other, building higher and more complex structures, until castells became a separate tradition. …

“Following the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the Francisco Franco dictatorship tried to deprive castells of any hint of Catalan nationalism, Cervelló said, as part of its persecution of political dissidence.

“In the 1980s, shortly after Franco’s death, teams of castellers began incorporating women, making it possible to build towers of unprecedented height, and kickstarting a golden era.

“In 2010, the UNESCO recognized castells as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. …

“Júlia Pozo, who looks after the youngest members of the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia, praised the bravery of Mollà and other kids climbing to the top of castells. Ultimately, she said, they’re the ones who decide whether a castell is crowned.

“ ‘If they are afraid and don’t want to climb, they let us know, and we either try to find someone else, or we dismantle it,’ Pozo said. 

“But some, she said, will venture upward even if they are afraid, pulled by their ‘casteller spirit.’ ” 

Be sure to click at the World, here, and enjoy the happy grins on faces old and young.

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