Thursday, 19 December 2013

The night of the ‘tunas’

During the first week of December the Christmas lights were lit up during the evening hours then on the weekend the celebrations went to a whole new level. This weekend was a ‘puente’ or bridge which means a long weekend with Friday and Monday off. This is the joint celebration of Spain’s Constitution and the Día de la Inmaculada Concepción, or the Day of the Immaculate Conception.

I was eagerly awaiting this weekend, not only because it was a four day long holiday but also because there were interesting events going on in the city. The first one was the night of the ´tunas´, these university groups who dress up into traditional clothes, play music and sing on the Streets of Seville.

The tradition is very old, it started in the medieval age when poor college boys used their musical talents to go around pubs and events to earn a few coins or a bowl of soup in exchange for singing popular songs for the guests. They also used their guitars to court their chosen ladies and to give a serenade under their windows. I think they were similar to the ones we know as ‘troubadours’.

Their clothing is also worth looking into as they closely resemble of a 16-17th century Spanish student’s outfit which is called the ‘grillo’. The most interesting is their cloak. It is full of coat of arms of cities they have visited. It is also decorated by colourful long ribbons that were given by their loved ones.

Seville’s ‘tuna’ groups are very famous. On the night of the 7th December they all head into the city where they play music and sing to entertain the people. We had been stalking them with Paul, counting all the different coloured groups and taking notes of which group goes to which bar. At midnight they all gathered next to the Cathedral on the Plaza de Triunfo to serenade in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and to give her flowers.

By the time we got to the square at 11.30pm there were so many people that we couldn’t find a very good place to watch the proceedings. 

To be honest when the first group sang the first song it didn’t feel that special. However later they started to sing more popular songs and the whole square started to sing together. People were smiling around us, the group got more animated and one of them started to conduct the people, the musicians were laughing and dancing, suddenly we were very happy to be there.

Later when we went home I caught a group who were just getting ready to go to the statue. After a group photo they lined up and started to sing.

We’re not sure how many groups sang that night but the next day when I walked that way I saw that the statue was covered with flowers.

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