Playing with Fire: Running the 'Correfoc' in Gerona

Collection with 15 media items created by Antolo

Spain 23 Oct 2014 09:35

It is night and the lights go out, the signal that announces the imminent beginning. In the courtyard, crowded with people, only silhouettes are distinguishable. The atmosphere is charged, but silence reigns. Almost everyone remains motionless except a newcomer trying to find friends in the crowd. Suddenly, a blinding light, followed by cries here, another there, and another... The fire has begun. The drums sound.

The Correfoc, or “fire run,” finds its origins in the “devil dances” of twelfth century Catalonia. The very first one took place at the wedding of Barcelona’s Count, Ramon Berenguer IV. These “devil dances” were performed by actors dressed like demons between meals during noble banquets in the Middle Ages. The dance represented the fight between good and evil.

People start running without a direction in mind. They are running away from the fire, pushing, pulling, eventually becoming attracted by that mysterious magnetism that has always existed between man and the pyrrhic element. At once, men dressed as devils carrying flares mix in the crowd. They light flares and begin to lash out at anything that moves. The sound of firecrackers and the hiss of sparks flying mix with the din of voices. Drums set the rhythm for the fire procession.

The relative security offered by the open space of the square gives way to narrow alleys where devils and spectators huddle. The bravest hug and jump at the fire porters while the majority, fearful, just keep looking for a way to stay ahead of the flames. It is a frenetic tour through the old town, down narrow streets and through open squares, where troupes of devils dance and throw flames and sparks in all directions. At the end of the route, in a larger square, a great fire festival awaits the crowd. Large flares jump skyward while intrepid jugglers delight the audience with a host of tricks, spitting fire like authentic demons until the last flame is extinguished and silence falls on Gerona.

Correfocs were once popular at different celebrations all around Catalonia. The first modern incarnation of the fire parade,however, took place in 1979 at Barcelona’s festival. This represented a comeback for the custom after many popular traditions were lost during the Franco dictatorship. Today, the Correfoc, like other traditional Catalan customs, is a way to preserve Catalonia’s cultural identity.

Gerona Catalonia Spain Fiesta Festival Fire Parade Pyrotechnics Culture Tradition Public Feast Correfoc Fire Run Catalan Minority Heritage Customs Play Night Identity Firecrackers Square Silhouettes Celebration Croud

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Playing with fire 02
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Hundreds of people try to advance along the narrow alleys of the Jewish Quarter, following the firelight.

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Playing with fire 03
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
25 Oct 2008

A group of festival-goers dressed as demons offer a fire tribute in front of Gerona's City Hall.

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Playing with fire 04
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

The crowd joins the devils in a pagan dance under umbrellas of fire. They must embrace the fire carriers to keep away the sparks.

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Playing with fire 06
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
25 Oct 2008

Euphoria. When the "devils" go crazy with their firecrackers, looking down is the only way to not get burned.

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Playing with fire 01
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
23 Oct 2009

A man dressed as a devil holds a green torch to announce the beginning of the fire parade.

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Playing with fire 07
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

The Batuca drummers group sets the rhythm for the whole parade. Drums of war for a fire battlefield.

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Playing with fire 08
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

The youth at the festival can't hold back the irresistible attraction of fire. They jump in front of any burning invention that they find on their way.

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Playing with fire 09
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Two "devils" await the order to light their fuses and start a fire activity on the square.

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Playing with fire 10
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Human ÒmatchesÓ run towards the multitudes.

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Playing with fire 11
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Well protected young people run across the square and jumps into the sparks.

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Playing with fire 12
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Fiery contraptions are set up on the main squares of the parade route to delight visitors.

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Playing with fire 13
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
23 Oct 2009

Correfoc ends in a show of light and explosions of sparks near ground level.

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Playing with fire 14
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
30 Oct 2011

Jugglers delight the audience with a host of tricks, spitting fire like authentic devils.

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Playing with fire 15
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
23 Oct 2009

A silhouette stands up on the top of GeronaÕs Cathedral stairs while the last fire is extinguished.

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Playing with fire 05
Girona, Spain, Girona
By Antolo
23 Oct 2009

Devils armed with fuses lash out with fire at some participants.