Read in Catalan

This year, thousands of Catalans ended their Christmas day outside a prison. On the evening of the 25th, huge numbers of people congregated outside the Lledoners penitentiary in central Catalonia to sing carols to the prisoners - in particular, to the seven political and civil pro-independence leaders incarcerated there. Road accesses to the jail near Sant Joan de Vilatorrada were bumper to bumper with traffic as vehicles arrived between lunchtime and 7pm to give Christmas Day encouragement to Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Joaquim Forn.

There were also similar carol-singing gatherings at dusk at Puig de les Basses prison in Figueres, where former Catalan government minister Dolors Bassa is in prison, and at Mas d'Enric, in the south of Catalonia, where the former speaker of parliament Carme Forcadell is jailed. All nine have spent from 8 to 14 months in preventive prison so far while they await a trial for a charge of rebellion and other charges related to the Catalan independence referendum.

Among those gathered to sing carols at Lledoners were relatives of Jordi Sànchez and the wife and sister of Jordi Turull, who expressed gratitude to the crowd for their efforts. Jordi Turrull's personal thank you to those present was heard via phone.

Christmas at #Lledoners prison. The people never fail. — Damià Calvet (Catalan minister for territory and sustainability)

At Lledoners, those who gathered waved Catalan estelada flags and lit up the night with the torches from their mobile phones, while singing carols and a version of the song Bona Nit - "Good night" - by classic Catalan rock group Els Pets, this time with lyrics adapted by Joan #Bonanit.

The singing of this song outside the Lledoners prison is already a ritual: the rendering of the tune on Christmas night was the 175th time that Joan #Bonanit and hundreds of others have sung 'Good night!' to the prisoners in Lledoners jail. This one, however, was the most multitudinous yet. And just as is done on every other night, the evening ritual outside the prison also included the usual personal goodnight salutation to each of the political prisoners, followed by a complete silence while the crowd listened closely to try and hear the prisoner's reply from inside the penitentiary - and responses were heard this time. The voice of ERC party leader Oriol Junqueras was one of those that those outside the prison recognized.

Outside Lledoners, absolutely packed— SilviaMc

At Puig de les Basses prison, singing Christmas carols so you'll never be alone— Esteve Farrés

The prisoners and their families thanked those who came to the Christmas gathering for their presence outside the prisons, also mentioning the special day that they had due to the initiative to broadcast a special radio programme for those in jail: Christmas in prison (link and radio programme in Catalan). 

#BonaNit friends. Hearing you singing, the music, picks me up and takes me to you! Thanks for allowing us to have such a special Christmas day. And a very big hug to those of you who were stopped on the highway— Jordi Sànchez

Thank you very much to all those who came to #Lledoners prison this evening to sing this very special Good Night with @Joan_BonaNit and to wish us a Merry Christmas. We won't give up. Today more than ever, freedom is hearing you on the other side and knowing that we are not alone. We love you!  Joaquim Forn

Thanks to all of you who went to #Lledoners on a very special evening, to turn injustice into hope. In his daily phone call Jordi Cuixart asked me to thank you for your solidarity and for making your voices heard @Libertatmusica Merry Christmas and best wishes! — Txell Bonet (partner of Jordi Cuixart)

Today, I've not only been able to say "good night", but also to wish you all a Happy Christmas! Did you hear? In Lledoners prison, I explained the origin of the 'Christmas log' tradition and they even gave out some gifts! A loving hug to everyone!— Oriol Junqueras

Thank you very much to all those who made possible the #Nadalapresó radio programme and everyone who came to #Lledoners. You never cease to surprise us, we can never thank you enough for all this support and warmth. Long live the radio! @NadalPreso Jordi Turull i Negre