Along with the traditional Spanish Christmas celebrations, Barcelona also embraces Catalan traditions, including the bizarre happy faced ‘Caga Tió’ and squatting ‘Caganer’. There’s also a Christmas Market, musical performances and of course plenty of partying. As the festive season is in full swing, find out what to do in Barcelona this Christmas.
A Traditional Catalan Christmas
The bustling Catalan capital is even more lively at Christmas time, with music performed in the streets, decorations among the palm trees and plenty of festive food to try. Traditionally beginning 8th December with ‘The Feast of the Immaculate Conception’, decorations are put up and the festive season starts. This is also when the outdoor Nativity Scene is opened in Juame Square and displayed in homes. Christmas celebrations begin on La Nochebuena, 24th December when the Caga Tió is beaten and families gather for a meal then mass. Christmas Day (25th) sees the traditional meal of escudella i carn d’olla, a meat stew.
Presents aren’t opened until January 5th, or ‘Kings’ Day’ when the Three Kings arrive from the East (by boat). Children leave out water for the camels, their shoes for gifts (like stockings), and food for the Kings. The 26th is the ‘Feast of Saint Estaban’ which is celebrated with eating canelons, similar to Italian caneloni. The 28th is a day of practical jokes similar to April Fools day, where the ‘Day of the Holy Innocents’ is celebrated. Then it’s New Year’s Eve 31st December, when people mostly have a family celebration at home, eat 12 grapes at the 12 chime of the bells at midnight, then go party until the early hours. There are also a few traditions that are completely strange to outsiders! Find out more..
The Christmas Market
The Christmas Market, La Fira de Santa Llúcia, is in main square in front of the Cathedral, and open until 23rd December. Here you can find all the traditional gifts, decorations, handicrafts and traditional foods. The best day to visit is 13th which is the day of Santa Llúcia, where all the activities are dedicated to Catalan traditions. Don’t miss the Carassa de Nadal parade where sweets are thrown from floats to the children. The most popular objects for sale here are the Caga Tió and Caganer. Read more about them below.
The Caga Tió
This smiley faced log is put in homes 8th December and kept nice and warm under a blanket and fed orange peel and traditional Christmas sweet; turron (like nougat) every evening until the 24th December. He has a happy face and is full of sweets, that on the 24th the children all hope for him to excrete presents! The way they do this is by beating him with sticks. A strange tradition indeed!
Look out in the open air Nativity scene (Pessebres) for this guy. One of the more mysterious traditions is that of the ‘Caganer’ – literally a squatting guy, defecating. To most people this wouldn’t be the kind of decoration you would like around the house, but in Barcelona it’s very popular! No one is sure where the traditions stems back to, but it’s for good luck! You can also get imitations of famous celebrities and politicians, if you would like them to adorn your mantelpiece.
Stay at Equity Point Hostels
With a choice of locations and private rooms, Equity Point Gothic, Centric and Sea gives you the perfect place to stay in the city this Christmas. Chose between great value accommodation in the upmarket shopping district, medieval old town or right on the beach front. All hostels have our usual great facilities and are sure to give you a festive welcome. Book your bed here