Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fira de les Trementinaires

The weekend of the 28th and 29th of May, me and Éva headed to a village called Tuixent to be volunteers and to help out with a thing called “Fira de les Trementinaires”.

The beutiful valley of La Vansa

“Les Trementinaires” were women from the La Vansa valley who, from the end of the ninteenth century to the end of the twentieth, left their homes to sell self produces remedies in order to keep their families from poverty. The government started demanding taxes in cash, something that were extremly hard to get in the remote mountain villages of the valley. The knowledge about different herbs and how they can help you were something that these families had known for ages, passing it from generation to generation orally, but it wasn’t until the times demanded it that they really started taking advantage of their expertees. During the summer months the women were needed in the fields along with the men, but in the winter when the work was less, they headed out from their homes, backpacks filled with herbs and remedies, to try their luck far away from home. Their remedies could help you with just about everything, from abortion to problems with the kidneys. They were made from herbs and mushrooms found in the valley, and oil were also drawn from the trees or made from the gathered herbs. One of their most valued product, turpentine oil, were also what gave the trementinaires their name.

We had arrived to the future...
Isidre is interviewing two real trementinaires
So, like I said, the 28-29th of May, the “Fira de les Trementinaires” took place in Tuixent, one of the original villages of the trementinaires. The fira is supposed to remind people of the trementinaires so that they and their incredible work are not forgotten. There were also a lot of activities for the children, among other things a performance about one of the trementinaires and her adventures and a competition in recognizing different herbs used by the trementinaires by their smell. They also had a lot of traditional dancing and music, and two “real” trementinaires came and spoke about their experiences and how it was really like. On Sunday the market took place, one of the main attractions of the fira. There you could buy, among other things, herbs used by the trementinaires, home made bread, cookies, cheese, soap and clothes. On Saturday night, there was a big “foguera” in the main square of Tuixent, and also lots of dancing and singing. Traditional dancing and singing was also a reocurring theme of the festival, and in every opportunity people spontaniously bursted out in a dance or song, even when waiting for food in a restaurant.
The foguera on Saturday night

I think it’s great that people here keep the culture and traditions of the trementinaires alive, even for the small children, so that it becomes a part of their identity. I also think the trementinaires are such a good symbol of strong women that saved their families from poverty, and I think that speaking about them can give hope to a lot of women today.  

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