February 12th marks the feast day of Santa Eulàlia and the beginning of the city’s winter festival.
But who is Santa Eulàlia, besides the co-patron saint of Barcelona? Her name means “the one who speaks well”. Born in 290 Eulàlia was a brave 13-year-old virgin, who preferred to suffer martyrdom at the hands of the Roman emperor Diocletian, rather than renouncing her Catholic faith. Diocletian did not hesitate to sentence her to 13 tortures, one for every year of her life.
Many miracles are attributed to the young saint, who was the city’s only patron for over 1000 years until 1687, when the sky turned black as a plague of locusts swarmed over Barcelona. The desperate citizens plead to their patron for help but it seems that Eulàlia was not quite paying attention so Barcelonans tried with La Mercè, Our Lady of Mercy. Maybe it was just luck or maybe it was that they tried harder, but the truth is that La Mercè won her right to be co-patron (September 24). It is said that the rain that is usually present on September 24 is Saint Eulàlia’s tears: could they be of sorrow because she lost the favor of the city or just to spoil the feast day of La Mercè?
Nevertheless, Barcelona still has devotion for the martyr girl and during a whole week the winter festival will celebrate Eulalia with giants, music, human towers, and many other popular culture figures that are part of a festive tradition that has been documented since the 14th century. To know more click here