Like all things fiesta, when it comes to the holiday season and Christmas in particular, the Spanish celebrate in style. Once December rolls around, it’s basically Christmas. The city lights up, works slow down and there’s a lively buzz in the city, one of shopping, wine, elaborate tapas and dinner parties.
Technically in Spain, the Feast of Immaculate Conception on December 8th (public holiday) is when Christmas begins. This is also when the renowned Caga Tio (poo log) makes an appearance. This is an authentic Spanish tradition where a small log with a smiley face, wearing the traditional red Catalan hat, gets covered with a blanket and fed Turron every evening by the children. The theory is that the more you feed it, the more he’ll poo out lots of presents on Christmas Eve. During Christmas Eve, once dinner is over the children hit Caga Tio with a stick, while he pushes the presents out
Throughout December as well as during and after Christmas day, there’s plenty to do for family and friends. The city is full of markets, concerts and street performers, as well as parades and festivals. There’s no lack of things to keep the family occupied, especially the children.
At the top of Cathedral Square, during Christmas, as well as the day after, there is a stage where from 5:30pm onwards, Christmas stories are told by a local theatre company. This is followed by dancing and is a very local celebration, with the commentary being done in Catalan. The visual part of it is entertaining enough however, even if you don’t fully understand what they’re saying.
Other interesting things to check out are:
- The Nativity Scene near the Catedral
- Santa Claus on the 8th floor of Corte Ingles (Barcelona’s largest department store)
Barcelona is renowned for its markets and during Christmas time there’s no exception. Here’s a few to explore:
- Fira de Santa Llucia – A classic Christmas Barcelona market, this is a great place to buy Christmas trees, Caga Tios and much more. It gets packed so the earlier you can go the better.
- Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia – Situated around the gardens outside the Sagrada Familia, it’s a bit smaller than the Fira de Santa Llucia market and more spread out but it’s in a great location at the foot of the Sagrada Familia, which makes for a gorgeous backdrop.
- Mercat Gotic (Fira de Brocanters) Market- A much smaller, antique market located off of Plaza Catalunya with a wide variety of merchandise.
Christmas Lights – Where to find the best displays during the holidays:
- Plaza Catalunya and the whole surrounding area has wonderful displays
- Ronda de Sant Pere street usually has great lights
- Portal de l’Angel a popular shopping area just off of Plaza Catalunya showcases some impressive displays.