ACYH Blog

discovering alternative creative youth hostel
18 Dec

Christmas traditions in Barcelona

Even though Spain celebrates many same traditions as other European countries and rest of the world, many traditions are still very unique and are only celebrated in Barcelona or Catalonia. So let’s look through most common and surprising traditions that you can encounter during your trip in Barcelona during Christmas holiday!

1. CAGANERS. Christmas trees, gingerbread cookies, sparkly lights, decorations. All of this is pretty common in Barcelona, however in Catalonia, some decorations are taken to the next level. Here in Catalonia we have a slight obsession with one of the figurines that no nativity scene would be complete without—the caganer. The caganer, literally the shitter, depicts one of the village folk dropping his pants and relieving himself among the other townspeople and animals present at the birth of Christ.

2. TIÓ DE NADAL. Yet another cherished character of the holiday season, and again specific to Catalonia, the Tió de Nadal.  This little guy is more commonly referred to as the cagatió. He reigns the month of December as a loving gift bearer in one of the strangest ways. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, they feed the log. Finally, when the time has come, they dance around him, singing and hitting him with a stick until he magically defecates some small gifts or sweets. Always these are similar to what you might find in a stocking.

3. CHRISTMAS SWEETS. Bakeries and pastries shops during Christmas time is open as usual in Barcelona and are filled with special seasonal sweets. One of the most popular sweets is well-known turron – a hard nougat bar with different types of nuts. Another specialty is the neules – cylindric wafers, which comes into many different types, with different fillings, flavours, looks. Try the chocolate dipped for the rich and crunchy taste!

4. SANT ESTEVE (Saint Stephen’s Day). Traditionally, families would gather in one household for Christmas Day and often, owing to snow or bad weather conditions, would spend the night there instead of returning to their own houses come nightfall. The tradition that most stands out from the Day of Saint Stephen is the eating of canelons, or cannelloni as they are better known in Italian. These pasta tubes can be stuffed with a mixture of meat, seafood, or vegetables, and in Catalonia are traditionally served covered in a rich béchamel sauce. 

5. DIA DE LOS SANTOS INOCENTES (Holy Innocents’ Day). On 28th December, the Catalan people, as in the rest of Spain, celebrate Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents’ Day). This is the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day, and it is a day in which the entire country lives in constant suspicion.

Have a very cozy Christmas and enjoy local traditions here in Barcelona! Feliz Navidad!