invitació 29.1

Wheel of presentations of the pedagogical case of the fallas of the Pyrenees

The Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees has already met representatives of 4 territories with the aim of continuing with the creation and improvement of the didactic material that comprises the pedagogical suitcase of the faults of the Pyrenees

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Meeting with the fallaires associations of Pallars, Sobirà and Jussà

Alta Ribagorça, Andorra, Vall d'Aran and els Pallars, Sobirà and Jussà, have already been able to take a look at the didactic material about the falles in the Pyrenees that the Chair is developing together with Obaga Activities, a company dedicated to the management of activities in nature.

During the month of January, the Chair has begun meetings with representatives of the different countries to present the materials, collect ideas and opinions of the community to improve it. In this way "we want to get a material that explains the traditions of each territory to transmit to the children the different variants of the festival of falles", explained Marc Ballesté, head of projects of the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of Pyrenees.

As of April, the Chair intends to meet with the failing associations of Aragon, El Berguedà and the Occitan zone of Comenge.


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Xavier Pedrlas
PHOTO: Xavier Pedrals

What is the Fia-Faia?

La Fia-faia is the party that opens the celebration of Christmas in the towns of Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola. In its origin it was part of the rituals that accompanied the winter solstice festival, a pre-Christian ritual of sun worship, which transformed and incorporated into Christmas has been able to reach our times through the centuries. The Fia-Faia has similarities with other festivals that are celebrated in the regions of the Alt Pirineu at the summer solstice.

Currently, on Christmas Eve, at dusk, marked by the touch of prayer, each village lights a bonfire on the mountain, this fire will be moved, and at night in the villages with torches made with a Margera grass, said also faia. The descent of the torches by the mountain is a unique spectacle, especially the years of snow. When arriving at Bagà, the fallaires are received by the authorities, who put a handkerchief around their neck, and then distribute the fire to the rest of the Baganese who wait for them with their torches ready. In Cerdanyola the handkerchief was distributed at the initial moment of the descent, which is also done up to the church square.

Then the general burning starts in each town, accompanied by very short songs: "Fia-faia, que nostro senyor ha nascut a la paia", and a music on which the bells of the respective churches stand out at certain moments. As faies go consuming, the last part of the torch is added to a common fire, previously ignited; In Bagà the youths jump over this bonfire, and around the youth they throw the fae and then a band is formed to dance the dance of the party.

In Bagà the cream is spectacular with more than four hundred torches breaking the darkness. At the end, the dance of the Fia-Faia is done and the cake is distributed with garlic and quince oil, a traditional delicacy of the party. In Sant Julià de Cerdanyola party has a more intimate air, the descent of welcomes the majority of fallaires. After the general burn, the dance is danced and then all-i-oli of quince is distributed with toast. After the family celebration in each house, the youth returns at night, around the same fire, it becomes a candle, and the sunrise is fun; in these hours the traditional "order" is made, where the objects of the citizens left outside the house will be changed.

The faies are made with a tall stem grass, popularly Faia, harvested from Sant Martí, so that it has time to dry properly. Made with skill, usually have a length greater than two meters, being however very light. Its realization can be an art. There are small differences between the torches of Bagà and those of Cerdanyola.

The territory of the Fia-Faia

For scholars the historical isolation of Alt Berguedà is evident since prehistory, it is a geographical corner rather badly communicated with respect to the neighboring counties of Cerdanya, Ripollès, Osona and Solsonès. Even in known historical times, the Alt Berguedà has not suffered many of the invasions and influences that have affected the rest of the country: constancy of permanent Roman occupation, only the conquest, nor any remarkable find. Nor did the Saracens leave any testimony of their presence; never even occupied by the French during Napoleon's time. A broken and difficult country where the bandits, the Carlists, the maquis and the smugglers became strong, until recent times. This isolation and the continuity of its population are some of the factors that explain the maintenance of long-lasting traditions such as trust.

Bagà is a village of around 2,000 inhabitants, which in the mountains is very, old barony chief, rich in traditions, with a splendid medieval old town. Sant Julià de Cerdanyola, a village located in a high valley, keeps the authenticity of the traditions, customs and way of being of the people of the region, but above all a remarkable stubbornness to keep the town alive: over the years it has seen the disappearance of twenty villages of the high Berguedà's valleys of its environment.

The Fia-Faia: a celebration of the winter solstice

It is an ancestral festival, with pre-Christian roots that could have been part of an ancient ritual of sun worship. It would correspond to the celebration of the winter solstice: the day when the sun has a shorter duration in the sky. The solstices, both winter and summer, by Sant Juan, have been celebrated in most cultures based on agriculture or livestock.

The party was altogether a prayer to the sun so that it did not shorten the day any more, and the hours of light began to grow, what happened after the celebration.

These beliefs, deeply rooted, survived, with more or less changes, the Roman Empire, staying more genuine in the territories where Romanization was shallow, as was the case of Alt Berguedà, the Pallars, Aran and Vallespir, which they coincide in being also of delayed Christianization.

Christianity, wisely, chose to integrate these ancestral celebrations, placing Christian feasts at the same dates; in the case of the summer solstice, it coincided with Sant Juan and the winter solstice with the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. Today the dates of the solstices have been slightly displaced by the modifications made in the calendar.

At Christmas some Pyrenean localities light public bonfires, but no other torch cream in the Catalan Pyrenees remains on these dates. The faies of Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola are unique on Christmas Eve, which would correspond to the winter solstice. The summer solstice has remained strong, and there are a number of Pyrenean locations that burn falles, and the party has been enriched over the years. The winter has been drowned by a very powerful Christian holiday, Christmas, and only in a very transformed way are some reminiscences of the ancient cults, one of them would be the tió, another the Fia-Faia.

This festival has remained almost unknown in the mountains of Alt Berguedà, with all its charm and magic, becoming one of the most characteristic and original of Catalonia in the Christmas festivities. It could have gone unnoticed because Christmas Eve is a favorable day for privacy, and its scope has been strictly local. Every Christmas the fallaires of Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola will stop the advance of darkness again, following an atavistic rite: Fia-Faia!.

As it could not be otherwise Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola feel deeply united with all the other fallaires of the Pyrenees.



The Falles, Haros and Brandons celebrate the third anniversary of the Declaration of Intangible Heritage of UNESCO

The Chair works to define a safeguard model and supports the creation of an International Fallaire Association to maintain the tradition in the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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With regard to the objectives for the next year of the Chair of Education and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Pyrenees, this entity of the University of Lleida (UdL) plans to implement fallaires suitcases in schools, as well as request a POCTEFA project together with universities from Spain, Andorra and France. Also, he wants to bet to become part of the UNESCO Chair, for the work he does in the field of cultural heritage.

Les Festes del Foc del Solsticis d'Estiu als Pirineus, also known as falles, haros and brandons, celebrates today the third anniversary of the Declaration of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The traditions that are part of the representative list of UNESCO are submitted every five years to an evaluation to verify that the party is still valid and that actions are being taken so that it is not lost as well as to demonstrate that it has not been perverted . For this reason, the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees is working to finalize the definition and evaluation of a safeguard model for falles, haros and brandons and is committed to the creation of an International Fallaire Association, which provides for a commission to safeguard this tradition, according to its director, Sofía Isus.

In this sense, Marc Ballesté, postdoctoral researcher assigned to the Chair, explained that educational activities have been carried out to introduce the tradition fallaire to children. The design of educational suitcases about the Festa de Falles, Haros and Brandons is an example. It is a didactic material made up of six activities with which children know the party, and the symbols, values, nature and music that surround the festivity. With the suitcases, the students learn to differentiate the falles of each locality according to the type of bark or grass with which they are made; they deal with the language, such as Catalan, Castilian, Occitan, French or Ribagorzano; they learn the names of the districts, rivers and towns of the fallaires zones; They have the opportunity to create a solar simulator to understand the sun cycle as well as introduce themselves to different myths such as that of Ephesus, and learn the typical dances that are danced during the day of falles. Currently, this initiative has been presented to the associations fallaires and during this course a pilot test will be carried out with teachers from different schools.

Also in the field of education, the Chair participates in the Master of Communication of Cultural Heritage offered by the University of Lleida, which will begin next September, as well as its involvement in the Science Week with two workshops.

In terms of dissemination and promotion of heritage, considered a key in the preservation of intangible heritage, the Chair has carried out various actions such as the creation and dissemination of a calendar of falles, the promotion of an international fallaire meeting and a concert for commemorate the Declaration of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It is worth noting his participation in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, commissioned by the Generalitat de Catalunya, held at the National Mall in Washington DC, where the falles tradition was introduced with activities, lectures, colloquiums and simulations of the descent of falles, to about a million people who passed through the National Park during the festival.

PirosLife educational suitcases, adult-proofed

Sofia Isus, director of the Chair, presented in a demonstration the objective of the didactic material aimed at children as future managers of biodiversity

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The public attending the PirosLife Technical Conference. Bear and Primary Sector, held in Barcelona at the headquarters of the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat de Catalunya, was able to test the educational suitcases destined to make known the brown bear and its environment to the children of the Pyrenean schools.

Thus, technicians and directors of the PirosLife project enjoyed the experience of knowing the plantigrade and its habitat with the five senses through the games and activities that bring together the educational suitcases, which were presented by Sofia Isus, responsible for the educational PirosLife, and Director of the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees of the University of Lleida.

According to the director, the objective of the educational suitcases is "to approach the reality and to reflect with the students on what is happening in their social reality". In this sense, Isus appealed to a greater participation in the elaboration of the didactic materials of the educational suitcases, to have a wider representation of the Pyrenean environment, and thus, to be able to create a more global awareness of the environment to the students, which will become the future managers of this species, of sustainability and the natural environment.

Sofia Isus also expressed the will of the Chair to develop this project to reach all Catalan populations and, the reality that the educational initiative PirosLife is one of the most successful actions of the Life project.

The day also had the participation of members of the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat, project technicians, members of the Fundación Oso Pardo, and with the intervention of the head of networks of the European project PirosLife, Marcela Andreu.

The Chair, at the Smithsonian Festival in Washington

"We are pleased that knowledge and research in the field of falles have been valued"

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Some of the materials presented at the Smithsonian will be part of the pedagogical “suitcases” that the Chair is preparing to make the festivity public.

The Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees of the University of Lleida (UdL) has been one of the institutions invited by the Generalitat de Catalunya to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which takes place in Washington from June 27 to July 8 with the purpose of presenting different cultures and traditions from all over the world such as Armenia and Catalonia, which have been both invited this year.

Within the framework of this festival, falles -included in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Unesco in December 2015- will become one of the outstanding symbolic elements of the traditional Catalan manifestations. "We are very pleased that knowledge and research in the field of falles have been valued as part of this intangible heritage, above all for what we can do to safeguard the festivity according to the guidelines that Unesco points out about conservation and survival of the festivity", explained Sofia Isus, director of the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees.

The Chair, represented on this occasion by its research technician, Marc Ballesté, has prepared different activities to publish the world of falles: an exhibition of falles, workshops to build and see the process of elaboration, and games to learn its own vocabulary. In addition, he will participate in parades and talks on the traditions of the fire and summer solstice in Catalonia, or life through the ritual calendar, among others. "The challenge has been how to shape the festivity from knowledge to convey values and emotions, as it is totally experiential," said Isus.

Some of the materials presented at the Smithsonian will be part of the pedagogical “suitcases” that the Chair is preparing to make the festivity public. This material may be used next year by the students of 5th and 6th grade of Primary Education and 1st and 2nd level of High School. The areas of knowledge that are worked on are those of a social and natural environment, and that of languages, which takes into account those that are spoken in the places where festivities are celebrated (Occitan, Aranese, Aragonese fabla, Catalan, Spanish and French), among others.

The Fia-faia, the winter falles to ask for the days to grow

The Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees celebrates the second anniversary of the declaration of falles Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO with different events.

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Xavier Pedrals, author of the book Fia-faia. La festa de falles nadalenca, explained today that this festival has its origin in the ancient rites of sun worship like the rest of such manifestations. "The difference is found at the time of celebration, one in summer and the other in winter, because it used to ask for the days to stop being short and to grow with more hours of sunlight". The presentation of the book has taken place in the framework of the second anniversary of the declaration of the Fire Festivities Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, which the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees of the University of Lleida (UdL) has celebrated with different events throughout the day.

The book presented is complementary to another, La Fia-faia, ancestral, màgica, única (The Fia-faia, ancestral, magical, unique), by the same author, who is member of the Association of the Fia-faia and archivist of Berguedà’s Regional Archive. Pedrals commented that "for a long time, we wanted to have a rigorous, comprehensive, didactic and illustrated text of our festivity”. Thus, the 90 photographs that accompany the edition, mostly by Manel Escobet, have been chosen from more than 4,000 images and "become an unbeatable visual support in the different explanations proposed”.

The director of the Chair, Professor of the Department of Pedagogy and Psychology, Sofia Isus, who wrote the preface of the book, highlighted "the pleasant and understandable reading" and the fact that "it represents a remarkable contribution to the future we want for our festivities, among other things, because it is done with great rigor and it is very well documented”. The Fia-faia, celebrated in Bagà and in Sant Julià de Cerdanyola, is a Patrimonial Festivity of National Interest in Catalonia, together with the falles of Isil, due to its age and continuity in the celebration.

Otherwise, Matiu Fauré, member of the Eth Ostau Comengés Association, commented the audiovisual about the fire festivities in Comenge-Varossa that was presented below. The audiovisual material, unpublished, explains the development of the festivities, the preparation and the burning of the harem and provides the testimony of a participant. Throughout the day, a photographic exhibition of the Fia-faia has also been exhibited in the lobby of the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Social Work of the University of Lleida.

Presentation of the book “Fia-Faia. La festa de falles nadalenca”

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Next Thursday, November 30th, the book Fia-Faia. La festa de falles nadalenca, by Xavier Pedrals, is presented within the framework of the celebration of the second anniversary of the declaration of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the Fire Festivities of the Summer Solstice in the Pyrenees. The presentation will be given by Sofia Isus, also author of the preface of the same book, and will take place at 4.30 pm in the Boardroom (0.14) of the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Social Work of the University of Lleida. The presentation will be accompanied by an audiovisual projection of the Fire Festivities in Comenge-Varossa with comments by Matiu Farré.

The Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees attends the I International Congress of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Preservation, Study and Transmission

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Members of the chair attended the first Intangible Heritage Congress organized by the Chair of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Public University of Navarra and carried out in Pamplona at the facilities of the Museum of Navarra.

Presentations and communications were presented with a wide variety of topics, although the common safeguard of heritage was always the common one. One of the plenary conferences was given by Dr. Patricia Heininger-Casteret, professor in Anthropology at the University of Pau et des Pays de l'Adour (France) and collaborator of the Chair of the University of Lleida.

The Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees presents two communications in the X International Symposium on Trans-Pyrenean Studies

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On September 29th and 30th, the X International Symposium on Trans-Pyrenean Studies was held in the town of Queralbs (Ripollès). The use of natural resources in the Pyrenees was the central theme of the conference. The Chair presented the papers: "Falles, Haros and Brandons: From the recognition of UNESCO to the safeguard" and "The House of the Bears of the Pyrenees, a vehicle for the environmental education of the future", which are the result of two of the main lines of action that the Chair develops.

The colloquium served to analyze the social, economic and cultural dynamics of the Pyrenees and establish links for future collaborations between the Chair and other institutions or members of the community.




Exhibition on the Fire Festivities of the Pyrenees

It gathers the diversity of traditions of the different fallaires towns

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On the occasion of the first anniversary of the declaration by the UNESCO of the Fire Festivities of the Summer Solstice in the Pyrenees as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees of the University of Lleida (UdL) opens on December 1st an exhibition that gathers the diversity of traditions (falles, haros and brandons) around the fire festivities celebrated every year at the summer solstice in sixty-three towns of Andorra, Aragón, Catalonia and France.

This is the first action of the Chair of Education and Intangible Heritage of the Pyrenees, which has the support of the Department of Culture, the Institut d’Estudis Ilerdencs (IEI) and the Institute for the Development of Alt Pirineu and Aran (IDAPA). Within the framework of the inauguration of the exhibition, the presentation of this new Chair project of the UdL will take place.