Each culture and region has its own way of celebrating Christmas, and the Catalan territory is no exception: a log that shits gifts, a very special figurine in the nativity scene and a traditional dish made with leftover food of Christmas. Discover the most surprising and unique Christmas traditions in Catalonia!
In Catalonia, as in the rest of Spain, the first days of December it is typical to set up the nativity scene, a representation with figures of the birth of the baby Jesus. The singularity of the Catalan nativity scene is that it has an extra figurine, that of the caganer. This figure of a man shitting is usually placed rather hidden and in some Christmas markets or stores specializing in nativity scenes they can be found with the faces of personalities such as politicians, soccer players or artists.
In addition to setting up the nativity scene at home, in Catalonia it is typical to celebrate living nativity scenes, where the inhabitants of a town give life to the figurines of the nativity scenes, representing the time of Jesus' birth. Take the opportunity to visit some of the most popular live nativity scenes in Catalonia, such as the one in Corbera de Llobregat (Barcelona), Gunyoles d'Avinyonet (Barcelona), Castell d'Aro (Girona), Pals (Girona) and Peralada (Girona).
On Christmas Eve, one of the most unique Christmas celebrations in Catalonia takes place. In most Catalan houses, instead of waiting for Santa Claus to arrive, we make the Tió shit presents. Tió is a wooden trunk with two legs, a smiling face and covered with a blanket that the little ones poke with a stick while they sing a song so that they shit gifts. During the previous weeks, the children must take care of feeding him so that he can bring them gifts.
December 26 is a holiday in Catalonia because Sant Esteve is celebrated. During this day, families usually get together and it is typical to eat a plate of cannelloni made with leftover meat from New Year's Eve dinner or Christmas lunch, where dishes made with a wide variety of meats are usually eaten, such as escudella and carn d'olla. After the meal, traditional desserts such as polvorones, nougats or neules (a kind of tube-shaped waffle) cannot be missing.
The Pastorets are a typical theatrical representation of the Christmas holidays in Catalonia where scenes of the birth of Jesus, the fight of good and evil between angels and demons, and stories and dialogues of the shepherds that recall the first Christmas are combined. The most renowned are those of l'Ametlla de Merola (Barcelona), Berga (Barcelona), La Garriga (Barcelona) or Mataró (Barcelona).
During the month of December in Catalonia you can also enjoy a wide variety of Christmas fairs and markets with all kinds of products made by local artisans such as toys, accessories, jewelry and ceramic objects, as well as food products such as sausages, cheeses, sweets and nougats. In some markets you can even find Christmas ornamental products, such as figurines for the nativity scene, tions, lights, decorations and fir trees. Visit our post on Christmas markets to discover the best markets in the province of Girona and the Costa Brava.
As in the rest of Spain, on New Year’s Eve in Catalonia it is a tradition to end the year and welcome the new year by eating twelve grapes, one with each of the chimes, which symbolize the twelve months of the year. This night is usually celebrated at home with family or friends, but increasingly in the main squares of the country. This custom has become so popular that it is also celebrated in Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.
Catalonia is one of the autonomous communities in Spain where Christmas is most intensely lived. In addition to the most popular Spanish traditions, this region has its own traditions, some of which will surprise you.
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