02 Apr The Pine with Three Branches: From Religion to Nationalism
Is there any sort of natural phenomena in your home town? Here in Catalonia, near a small town known as Castellar del Riu, Berguedà, there are the remnants of a very important tree. Discovered in the early 18th century, this beautiful pine tree was stumbled upon by local farmers. The tree trunk is equally divided into three branches and had grown like this, reaching a height of 25 meters! Amazed by its beauty and uniqueness, the tree began to gain recognition. Word of the incredible tree spread across Catalonia. It is said that for years, this pine represented the Holy Trinity. In fact, even the famous Catalan poet Verdaguer mentioned this pine in a short poem of his in 1888!
However, in the 1980´s, the pine ceased to represent religion and converted into a symbol of Catalan nationalism. The tree actually died in the year 1913 but still remains standing. Sadly, one of the branches was destroyed by a group of troublemakers. There is a very strong sense of nationalism felt across Catalonia for its unique identity and culture. In fact, this unique tree was even featured on a postage stamp! This nationalism is what has substituted the religious metaphor of the tree.
Although the pine is in poor condition, a younger version of the pine or ¨El Pi Joven¨ was discovered not far from the original tree and is also parted in three perfect branches. This younger tree is said to be at least 200 years old and stands at 19 meters!
Since the year 1904 this special place has been used for annual political gatherings. However, once the dictator regime of Francisco Franco came into power, the meetings were banned because Catalan nationalism, or any expression of such, was illegal. The meetings resumed once Franco fell out of power. In fact, in 1986 there was record of 14,000 visitors that attended the annual gathering, typically held on the third Sunday of July. The number has since then decreased but the place continues to have political importance. A variety of Catalan political figures have given speeches at this location for its historical symbolism of Catalan culture and nationalism. Hopefully, the young tree will be properly taken care of and respected so the tradition continues to thrive. People from around the world can view the miraculous tree in the beautiful countryside in Northern Catalonia.