Ou com balla
The ou com balla, the dancing egg, shows us the magic of simplicity. This phenomenon, around the Feast of Corpus Christi in Barcelona, has, through time, become a symbol identified with the festival in the city.
The ou com balla includes an egg, water and an abundance of flowers, all three of which are symbols of fertility and regeneration, part of the vitality of the spring season. It is popularly thought that the dancing egg represents the host, or the body of Christ in the Eucharist, inside a rich casing decorated with precious stones.
It is difficult to pinpoint its origin. It seems that it was around 1440, a date which is deduced from notes in account books for work on the See. According to these notes, the cloister in Barcelona Cathedral received an order to get the chapel ready for Corpus Christi and, in addition, there is a record of the cost of some eggs for the fountain.
In looking for its origin, we have to keep in mind the similarities between the ou com balla and the water play created by Muslims using the fountains of their internal courtyards. One such water trick was to swing a ball on a jet of water from a spring.
The fountain in the cloister of Barcelona Cathedral and that in Casa de l’Ardiaca are the most traditional places to find the dancing egg. These days you can see it in the courtyards of many of Barcelona's unique and historical buildings. This boost to the Feast of Corpus Christi as a public festival allows us access to the various ous balladors that invite us onto the streets to wander round the city's most beautiful corners. A walk on the day of Corpus Christi enables us to enter some charming courtyards, those of the Museu Frederic Marès, the Acadèmia de les Bones Lletres, the Palau del Lloctinent and the Ateneu Barcelonès, for example. And we must not forget the ou com balla in the cloister of the La Concepció parish church, which, although set apart from the route through the narrow streets of Barcelona, has had an egg dancing there for many years.