Three…two…one and the lights are on! This is what happened the in November the 24th, every single lightbulb in the streets of Barcelona was lit on. There are several km of lights creating a starred sky under which we’ll stroll while enjoying some quality time with family and friends. And of course, we’ll spend some money in clothes and gifts.
There are some events never missed by the barcelonians, no matter how low the temperature is or how big the recessions pointed by the economists is.
When Christmas day is approaching and the decoration lights are on, is the moment when everything start: the Santa Llucia Fair opens its doors. Over there you can find Christmas trees, flowers, nativity figures, craftsmanship and ornaments.
From the 13th to the 24th of December, a wood of trees and eucalyptus perfume the city center.
The Gothic Quarter is the epicenter of the life in Barcelona during the Christmas season. The pedestrian streets of the Old City are crowed and there is one tradition not to miss: to have a hot chocolate after a nice afternoon (or morning) looking at nativities, Christmas trees and other holiday ornaments.
Petritxol street is the place to go for the hot chocolate. Generations of Barcelonians love going there..let’s say…to charge the batteries after a shopping afternoon.
Christmas traditions in Barcelona: the Nativity
Another spot not to miss is the Saint James Square to admire the Nativity, with an original interpretation of this classical and biblical scene. Every year the city council proposes a new approach to this topic: figurines in plastic bubbles, the main characters of the nativities displayed as chairs around a table…
But if you love the traditional Nativities, go to the Exhibition in the Bethleem church, located in la Rambla, on the corner of Carmen Street. Or inside the Marés Museum, right next to the Cathedral.
But, you know, the Christmas season is quite long here, because it goes as far as the 6th of January, the epiphany. And in that case, the action takes place in Gran Via, where you’ll find the Three Wise men Fair. It started in 1877 with 20 stalls and today there are more than 200. The most interesting thing is that is opened until the 5th of January (the Wise men Eve) in order to allow to the majesties or some parent make their last purchases. This is the last minute of the gifts and on the evening of the 5th of January you’ll see people rushing for the last minute gifts.
Not one, not two but three wise men
And talking about the three Wise Men, the Parade to welcome them is still one of the biggest events of the year in Barcelona, mostly for the younger ones. Every year, the 5th of January around 6 pm they by boat to the marina to distribute the gifts among the children.
New ornaments have arrived as well as new events and traditions, like the Galets in Rambla Catalunya, as a tribute to the gastronomic side of our holidays.
The place to be in Barcelona for New Year’s Eve is Montjuïc at Midnight. In the Maria Cristina Avenue you can find a piro-musical, some performances and a big party to welcome the New Year.
Let’s make number two
Every year, new traditions from other cultures are mixed with the old ones, like Santa Claus, but in most of our homes there are two local ones which survive: the Tió and the Caganer.
At the beginning of the month of December, every house has a log (A Tió). The children will “feed” it until Christmas Eve. The 24th they’ll poke it singing a popular song. This way, the log will give them some gifts, under the shape of candies and chocolates.
The figure of the “Caganer” is a young shepherd dressed the catalan way and he is located behind a bush or a tree just shitting. This tradition started during the XVII century but became popular during the XIX. Nowadays, in order to joke about the everyday events, you can find “caganers” with the face of politicians, football players or famous people on TV. Do you know that you can have one of them with the face you wish?