Barcelona celebrates Sant Ponç, with four medicinal-herb fairs.
11 May marks Sant Ponç or St Pontius’ Day, for the patron saint of herbalists and bee-keepers, and there will be a large number of medicinal-herb fairs throughout the country. One of the oldest and most famous fairs is the one held in Carrer de l’Hospital, in Ciutat Vella. There are stalls selling not just rosemary, thyme, laurel and mint, but also honey and other related products, including: preserved fruit, jam and traditional sweets.
The stalls are open all along C/ Hospital throughout the day, from 9 am to 9 pm. At Sant Agustí church, there will be a mass in honour of the patron saint at 11 am, after which his image will be taken out on procession. The parish chaplain will bless the herbs, which traditionally used to be kept under the bed, because people believed they possessed strong healing powers. The Unió de Sant Ponç, the organisers of the fair, will then proclaim the pubilla [heiress]. This year, there will also be a sardana gathering, with music from the Cobla Sant Jordi (at 1 pm).
Honey, the main attraction nowadays
Although Sant Ponç is traditionally a medicinal-herb fair, the main attraction these days is honey. There will be a honey competition during the fair, organised by the Barcelona Bee-keepers Association and Catalan Bee-keepers Association. There will also be a number of talks. At 11 am, there will be an informative conference on the properties of honey, and at 5 pm, there is a workshop on how to remove honey from hives.
There will also be workshops and talks on natural remedies throughout the day. There will be a demonstration of distilling essential oils using a still, along with an informative talk. In the afternoon, there will be a conference on the Catalan Parks of Aromas, and Valentí Serra, an expert on medicinal herbs, will present his new work Tornar als remeis de sempre [Getting Back to Traditional Remedies].
The Sant Ponç fair beyond the Raval neighbourhood
Apart from this one fair in Ciutat Vella, there are other places in the city that hold similar Sant Ponç celebrations. There will be a fair at Plaça de la Bella Dorita in Poble-sec, which, apart from medicinal herbs, also sells craft work and agricultural produce. In the district of Sarrià – Sant Gervasi, there are two Sant Ponç fairs: one in Farró, in Plaça de Mañé i Flaquer, and the one in Sarrià in Plaça de Sant Vicenç. In recent years, the Torre Lobeta Civic Centre, in Nou Barris, has also organised activities on medicinal herbs, along with a market.