Transformation tree ceremony: Fire and Nature

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? For me October 10th, 2021, was one of those days: Being in contact with nature, being in contact with others, contributing to a great celebration full of feelings.

That Sunday I participated in the closing fireworks show of the main festival of the Montbau neighborhood (Barcelona), in collaboration with the Colla de Diables de Montbau: It was the ceremony of the “Tree of Transformation”

After weeks of preparation (of which I have been posting in FB and IG stories and which you can see again as “featured” on IG), with the help of volunteers we designed a large botanical installation in the form of a palm tree to celebrate the arrival of autumn and the infinite renewal that is part of life. This large tree, 4 meters high and 4 meters wide, was built with organic and 100% recyclable materials: wires and long branches of dried fennel.

Fennel is an aromatic perennial plant with yellow flowers. Both the plant and its seeds have many medicinal uses. It is often used primarily to combat digestive and respiratory problems, because it has the ability to help balance the functions of the digestive system, and it also has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties. And for yesterday’s event it was the perfect plant to design the botanical installation I had in mind, because the plant can measure up to 120 cm in height, it is very thin and branched and it is easy to find in Mediterranean forests.

Throughout that afternoon, while we were designing the installation, everyone who came could write a wish on a piece of paper. For me it was very exciting to see how people approached and, very concentrated, wrote with illusion, folded their paper and deposited it in the basket… more and more wishes. Via Instagram we also received wishes from remote friends in Amsterdam, Seoul, Malaga… I wrote them on a piece of paper and put them in the basket.

The basket of wishes

When night fell, under the starlight, we placed the basket of wishes inside the botanical installation. And with the help of the devils of Montbau, we set the large installation on fire. The lights of the flames and the smell of the fennel completed the effectiveness of the spell and accompanied their static terrestrial pyrotechnic show for the Closing of the Fiesta Mayor. Here you can see a video of how it went. The ceremony began with a lighting of sparklers by the public. Then a group of devils paraded around the tree.

Colla de Diables de Montbau
Botanical installation by Ritaflowers
Photo Ernst Lallleman, visual content manager
Colla de Diables de Montbau
Botanical installation by Ritaflowers
Photo Ernst Lallleman, visual content manager

In Catalonia there is a great tradition of fire parties. So much so that there are about 300 “collas de diables” throughout the Països Catalans. The “collas de diables” are private associations of citizens who celebrate these fire festivities, hold traditional devil dances, and the “correfocs“.  The correfoc is a game or show that takes place in the streets of towns and cities where the goal is to avoid the pyrotechnics used by both the devils and other mythological beings represented under, for example, the form of dragons. Imagine an impromptu party of people, devils and dragons jumping and dancing together under sparks of fire.

Colla de Diables de Montbau
Botanical installation by Ritaflowers
Photo Ernst Lallleman, visual content manager

Devil dances are like a theatrical representation of the struggle of good against evil. It was used in the past for the Corpus Christi festivities.

Currently, the participation of devils in parades, processions and correfocs is an essential part of the major festivals of many towns and cities in the Catalan Countries: With more than 1,500 acts of fire annually.

Colla de Diables de Montbau
Botanical installation by Ritaflowers
Photo Ernst Lallleman, visual content manager

In ancient times plants were gods, spirits and wizards who lived inside trees and whispered to us through their flowers. Our ancestors discovered the energies contained in plants and knew how to use them to improve their lives. Every tree hides a story. And this one also hid hundreds of emotions and secrets that will come true. 

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