Andorra National Day

Andorra National Day

September 8
The Principality of Andorra, located in the PyrÉnÉes Mountains between France and Spain, was founded by the Emperor Charlemagne, who recovered the region from the Muslims in 803. ( See also St. Charlemagne's Day.) His son later granted part of his empire to the Spanish bishop of Urgell, and by the late 13th century the citizens of Andorra were ruled by two princes, one in Spain and one in France. Until recently, the principality had been governed jointly by the bishop of Urgell and the king, and, later, the president of France.
On September 8, 1278, Andorra's first constitutional document, known as the "Pareatges," was signed. Among other things, it stated that each of the co-rulers would receive a token tribute each year known as the Questia. Originally, the French king received $2 biennially; the bishop $8, plus six hams, six cheeses, and 12 hens in alternate years. On March 14, 1993, the people of Andorra voted to abandon this mode of government and institute a parliamentary system.
The people of Andorra celebrate their National Day by honoring Jungfrau von Meritxell, their patron saint. Pilgrims climb to her hilltop sanctuary near the villages of Encamp and Canillo, where her statue was found by a shepherd under an almond tree (some say a rose bush) blooming out of season. The pilgrims stop to refresh themselves with drinks that have been cooled in the nearby springs, and after the sermon they celebrate by dancing and eating lamb grilled on slabs of slate.
CONTACTS:
Ministry of Tourism
C/ Prat de la Creu, 62-64
Andorra la Vella, AD500 Andorra
376-875-700; fax: 376-860-184
www.andorra.ad/en-US/Pages/default.aspx
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 151