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Gegants and Capgrossos

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Photo: parade of giants in Barcelona.
A very important element in the local festivals of many Catalan towns are the parades of the giants (gegants) and big-heads (capgrossos), large figures carried by people. They represent popular archetypes, representative animals or historical figures of local importance, such as the giants of the city of Barcelona who represent King Jaume I and Queen Violant of Hungary. The tradition of the giants is present in many places of Western Europe and Latin America but it is in Catalonia where it has acquired a greater importance.

The giants are a custom dating from the Middle Ages, originating in the Corpus Christi processions, where festive elements inspired by biblical mythology were present. Over time they have lost the religious function and have become present in the local main festivals. In the 16th century appeared the female figure, the giantess, and later have appeared the big heads.

The tradition of the giants consists of carrying in the streets various puppetts of several meters in height. The carrier makes the giant turn and dance in the sound of music and drums. In contrast to the giants who are very tall figures, creating a solemn effect, the big-heads are smaller and with large heads, generating a more comical effect. The people who carry the giants or big heads are called geganters in Catalan. Groups of geganters (colles geganters) bring together giant carriers, musicians or companions.