Fireworks, Turks, and Long-Necked Mules: Pyrotechnic Theater in Germany and Catalonia


Max Harris


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

In June 1996, I was present at one of the world's great communal festivals, Berga's Patum. Berga is a small town in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees north of Barcelona. The Patum is the town's annual Corpus Christi festival, characterized by fireworks, mock battles, joyous dances, packed crowds, and the insistent beating of a large bass drum (pat-úm, pat-úm). Like so many surviving Catalan festivals, it has its roots in the procession that dominated Barcelona's Corpus Christi celebrations for more than four hundred years from the early fourteenth to the late eighteenth centuries.1

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