Catalans are voting in a parliamentary election that will test the strength of feeling about independence.
It may be a political battle but the issue has left a deep emotional scar on what was already a divided region.
Friends and colleagues admit they have fallen out, family members are not talking, some say they are afraid to state their opinion.
Maria Sanchez is a Catalan grandmother we met at an anti-independence rally.
She tells me she is no longer speaking to the brother she has been close to for more than 60 years.
“He broke my heart,” Maria says of his decision to vote for independence in October’s disputed referendum.
She assumes he will back a separatist party in the election but she cannot be sure as she hasn’t seen him in weeks.
Maria’s experience is not unusual. It seems everyone in the region has a story about fallouts over an issue which stirs deep passions.
We met Anna Dorador and her long time friend Lidia Blanquez enjoying a pre-Christmas catch-up in the mountains outside Barcelona.
The pair have managed to maintain their friendship despite being on either side of the independence battle.
“There are families broken because of this,” Anna tells us.
“That’s what’s sad. That’s really what pains me, families are torn apart because of personal ideology.”
Lidia admits some members of her extended family don’t talk to one another.
But she adds: “Despite Anna’s ideas at this time, wanting independence, I respect her because I love her despite her opinions.”
What unites them ahead of the election where they will vote for very different parties is worry about how society here will recover.
“Let’s see what the repercussions will be,” Anna says.
“It depends what happens in the election, what the results are, how we take it from there.”
But it may be hard to move on if the vote is split down the middle between pro and anti-independence parties.
Whoever eventually forms a government, one half of Catalan society will feel aggrieved.
And emotions are already raw among many separatist supporters after recent weeks brought police violence around the referendum, the ousting of Catalonia’s government and direct rule imposed on the region.
Alexandre Ruzafa used to oppose breaking from Spain but he will vote for a party which backs independence.
His switch of allegiance evolved over time but for others he says it was a instant decision.
“My wife changed her mind that day,” Alexandre says in reference to 1 October, when the aggression of the Spanish police trying to stop the referendum shocked Catalonia.
“It was completely astonishing, and she decided to change her mind immediately as an act of rebellion.”
The voice of independence dominated in the days and weeks after the referendum which pro-unity parties and voters stayed away from because it was deemed illegal.
In this election, imposed by the Spanish Prime Minister after sacking the Catalan government, the voters who call themselves “the silent majority” will make their presence felt.
Fear over the economic impact of independence is proving a strong hand for pro-union parties and it could bring some uncertain voters to reject independence.
John Carlin, a British-Spanish journalist with a home in Catalonia, says: “I think that as for the result of this election, obviously you have a hard core on each side that are just there. They are not going to move.
“It all turns on the 20% who are undecided.
“I think that the debate inside the minds of of those undecided people is, on the one hand, the indignation they feel at the imposition of direct rule from Madrid and the harshness of the police action on 1 October.
“On the other hand the more rational part of their mind that tells them: ‘Oh my goodness, if we follow the independence route we are going to have more economic problems’.
“Already thousands of businesses have relocated their headquarters outside Catalonia and that may be a taste of things to come.
“So it’s the heart against the head which will decided what those critical 20% do.”
John warns that political calm is unlikely to descend on Catalonia after the polls close.
If the vote is evenly split, whichever side eventually forms a government, one half of Catalan society will feel aggrieved.
Given the passions involved, the issue of independence won’t rest with Thursday’s counting of votes.