September 11 is the National Day of Catalonia (La Diada Nacional in Catalan), which commemorates the events of 1714, and one of the turning points in the War of the Spanish Succession. After holding out for fourteen months, the Siege of Barcelona ended when the Catalan troops were defeated by the armies of Philip V of Spain.
The day is noted for being an outpouring of Catalan sentiment, with cities all around Catalonia awash with the senyera, the Catalan flag. Legend has it that the colours date from when Charles the Bald dragged his bloodied fingers down the shield of Wilfred I following the latter’s death of 879. Although the exact origins are disputed, the flag is one of the oldest in Europe and for centuries was associated to the Crown of Aragon.
It is traditional for prominent members of Catalan society to lay flowers beneath the monument to Rafael Casanova, who led the ill-fated defence of the city, and to visit the Fossar de les Moreres, the memorial square where the people who died in the 1714 siege lie buried.
This year, like every other, and despite the rain that has been tumbling down on the city for the last 48 hours or so, FC Barcelona representatives are among those paying their respects, including vice-presidents Jordi Cardoner and Jordi Moix and several members of the board of directors.
It is also traditional for each of the different playing squads to be represented, with Gerard Piqué attending on behalf of the first team and Vicky Losada on behalf of the women, plus the likes of former basketball player Juan Carlos Navarro, handball star Casper Mortensen, futsal goalie Dídac Plana and rink hockey captain Aitor Egurrola.
La Masia always features prominently too, with the technical secretary of amateur football Jordi Roura being joined by a large contingent from the U16 team.
This year’s proceedings are particularly symbolic because they mark the centenary of the first time Barça made a floral offering in 1919.
It was a relatively new idea, having been first performed 1894, and with the club making a conscious effort to foster a Catalan identity and with Englishman Jack Greenwell leading the team to the Catalan and Spanish double, it the natural moment to join a tradition that has lasted through to the present day.