CATALAN TRADITIONS FOR CHRISTMAS
Christmas is a special season in Barcelona: the lights cover the city and despite the chilly weather, the city invites to take a stroll along the streets. If you are staying in Barcelona for this holiday season, here we give you the best tips to understand Catalan traditions!
CITY OF LIGHTS AND MARKETS
Although the Christmas period officially starts the 8th of December with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Christmas lights normally turn on during the end of November, illuminating the entire city with beautiful colors. Is the time to strolling around Barcelona streets with a warm chocolate in your hands or going to Christmas markets that spread around the neighborhoods.
The most famous, “Santa Llúcia”, takes place in the Cathedral Avenue in Barcelona city center from 24th of November until 23th of December. This typical and iconic market celebrates its 231 birthday with a lot of artisans stands selling Christmas products such as nativity scenes and figures (known as “Pesebre”), “tiós” figures or “caganers”, besides all types of hand-made crafts and Christmas trees. These two are one of the most typical Catalan traditions: “Caganer” character is one of the figures in the nativity scene are part of the nativity scenes, but its uniqueness has turned him in a very famous ceramic figure, even represented with famous people.
El TIÓ & SANT ESTEVE
According to Catalan tradition, families don’t celebrate the 24th of December dinning -while it is celebrated in the rest of Spain- , but they do the 25th Christmas lunch and most typical, the 26th Sant Esteve lunch. They also don’t have Santa Claus, but they have a special character that brings presents to the family: el Tió de Nadal. This small log with a friendly face and red bonnet is put on the Catalan houses, covered by a blanket and fed by the children every night during the holiday season. On Christmas Eve, the children sing a song (“Caga Tió”) and hit it with a stick, so that the Tió can pop out the presents.
Sant Esteve is one of the most typical Catalan celebrations. The families get together the day after Christmas for eating “galets” soup and canelons, a delicious catalan cannelloni made with meat that remained from Christmas lunch.
NEW YEARS EVE & THE THREE KINGS
If you are staying in Barcelona for New Year’s Eve, you should know the Spanish celebration of this special day. The 31st of December, friends and families get together for dinner and eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year with the 12 bell peals, wishing good luck throughout the coming year and toasting with cava. After this, there’s still a lot of New Year’s to celebrate and normally it continues with party all night.
After all the Christmas celebrations -and after eating a lot of “turrons”, a typical Spanish Christmas sweet- there is still one more day to celebrate. The Epiphany (6th of January) is one of the main festivity traditions. In theory, it celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the three Kings, but what it really means, especially for children, is presents – playing a similar role to Santa Claus in many other parts of the world. Children write letters the days before and bring them to the Kings, who will bring the gifts to their houses the night before. The 5th of January the parade or “cabalgata” take place in Barcelona, a big and magic spectacle that brings children and adults to the streets to catch the sweets thrown into the crowd. After the presents, families get together the 6th to eat the “Tortell de Reis”, a typical ring shape cake decorated with candied fruit and hiding two surprises: a dry fava been, that tells who has to pay the cake, and a small king figurine, meaning good luck for the year.