BCN Blog – Catalan Independence: A River Returns To Its Natural Course

‘Abona’t al Teatre Nacional,’ says the advert on the page in the Catalan newspaper in front of me. You could roughly translate this as ‘Buy a Season Ticket for the National Theatre.’ The important word here is National in National Theatre. If you’ve got a National Theatre then one would assume that you’ve got a Nation.

I don’t know enough about other nations who want independence to be able to form an opinion about their claims, but if I remember rightly the Scottish and Welsh have institutions such as the Scottish National Theatre or the Welsh National Opera. When the word National is used it’s always qualified by the national adjective, whereas in Catalunya the words like Nation and Country are always used without any qualification. Whether you agree with the independence movement or not, it’s completely obvious which Nation and Country are being referred to – The Catalans and Catalunya.

Watching the opening ceremony of La Mercè, Barcelona’s Main Festival, it struck me that everything happens here without virtually any reference to Spain. The opening speech was by a scientist who hoped to make the city the capital of a country that would lead the world in scientific innovation. The parade of strange dances that make up the Toc d’Inici were narrated in Catalan to a square full of tourists and referred to national traditions that had been important to the country since medieval times. The overriding sense was that Barcelona is, always has been and always will be the capital of a proud nation.

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