Confraternity of San Sebastian
Created in 1503 by Aparicio Navarri, priest of Cirés, this society was born in order to bury the corpses of the victims of an epidemic that struck the city. Nowadays, 19th, 20th and 21st July, it gathers around 650 men, generally heads of the family, who preserved Sant Sebastià’s religious tradition based on gastronomy, social gathering and good food habits. This rimes with local products such as girella, lamb stew, carn d’olla (meat boiled in broth), bread soup, vianda (meat and vegetable broth) and freginat (lamb meat).
Sant Sebastià Society organizes Sant Sebastià Festival in Pont de Suert. In 2011, it was awarded the Sant Jordi Cross. It was founded in 1503 by the priest of Cirés after a heavy epidemic in order to bury the corpses while a new cemetery was being built. Since then, it has included about 400 male members –although they take charge of the food, women are not allowed to participate– who meet 19th, 20th et 21st January to hold a gastronomic feast on Sant Sebastià’s Day: dinner on the first day, three meals on the second day, breakfast and lunch on the third day with tasting of local meats (girella, corder, carn d'olla, sopa de pa, freginat) and social gathering. After that, the new priors (people in charge of the organization of the celebration) are elected. According to the tradition, the two priors are given an apple, which represents that they will be the ones who will organize the festival the following year with the help of the outgoing priors.
Although the society was created in 1503, its statutes were not mentioned in the Old Book until 1730. Its members can come both from the village and the region. According to their contributions (money, sheep, firewood, wheat, logs, investments, …) there were different types of members.
Sant Sebastià Society’s celebration has also taken place in Barcelona since 1967 on initiative of a group of women from the village. Although it is not as huge as in Pont de Suert, it allows the people form the village who live in Barcelona to pay tribute to their Patron Saint.
The celebration takes place on the Sunday before or after 20th January, the Patron Saint’s Day. The priors elected this year are in charge of the organization of next year’s celebration, which combines Eucharist and popular lunch based on a typical regional dish (girella) and new desserts. Although the number of attendees is about 100-150 people, the trend is decreasing because the reduction of the participation of the young villagers. However, in the village, the new generations are integrating the festival in a more active way. In Barcelona, Sant Sebastià Society celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1992.