The festivities of La Mercè, patron saint of Barcelona, are held every year around September 24th in the squares and streets throughout the city.
It is a short but intense festival, full of activities of popular culture very diverse and for all ages. Other events include the morning of the main festival, the “caval riding” of La Mercè, the correfoc (“correfuegos”), the walk of giants and dwarves, the casteller festivities (the famous and impressive “human castles”),dances and etc.
There is a strong presence of streetwalks of all kinds, one of the oldest traditional acts of the city.
The festival pays tribute to the patron saint of Barcelona, to whom miracles linked to the city are attributed. It is explained that on 24 September 1218 the Mare de Déu de la Mercè appeared simultaneously to King James I, St Peter Nolasco and St Raimundo of Penyafort and instructed them to institute a religious order to rescue the Christians hostage in sarracen lands. Also centuries later, in 1687, Barcelona was attacked by a terrible plague of lobster and the people invoked the protection of the Mare de Déu de la Merco. When the plague passed, she was proclaimed patron of the diocese, although it was not officially so until 1868, with Pope Pius IX.
In 1868 Barcelona began to celebrate religious and popular festivals in honor of the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, around September 24th. However, this celebration lives moments of fullness and decline in the last third of the nineteenth century.
In the last 30 years, The Mercè has become a popular festival full of colorful, music and multiple activities for young and old.