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Typical Christmas things in Catalonia

Typical Christmas things in Catalonia

09.12.2021 Culture

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.


El pessebre

During the Christmas holidays, the Catalans build a pessebre (nativity scene), a representation of the birth of the baby Jesus made with figures of characters from rural life and decorated with moss, logs and cork, among other natural elements.

There are also pessebres vivents (“living nativity scenes”), in which real people make representations of the birth of Jesus and other scenes religious taking advantage of the environment, celebrated in the different towns and cities of Catalonia during the months of December and January, coinciding with the Christmas holidays.


El caganer

If there is something that differentiates the Catalan nativity scenes from the ones that are made in the rest of Spain it is the caganer. It is the figure of a shepherd dressed in traditional Catalan clothing, with his breeches down and defecating, which is included in the pessebre, somewhat more hidden than the rest of the figures.

The caganer has become an icon of Christmas in Catalonia and it is sold in many Christmas markets, we can even find less traditional ones representing well-known characters such as footballers, politicians, actors/actresses or singers.


Els pastorets

Els pastorets is a theatrical performance that takes place during the Christmas festivities in many towns and cities in Catalonia. It combines scenes from the birth of Jesus, the struggle of good and evil between angels and demons and stories and dialogues of shepherds during the first Christmas.

The origins of this theatrical genre are found in the medieval performances that took place inside the churches on Christmas day. Currently, most performances are performed by amateur theater groups in parish centers, social centers or theaters.


The Caga Tió

In Catalonia it is not Santa Claus who brings the Christmas presents to the houses, but the Caga Tió (or simply Tió), a wooden trunk supported by two front legs and with a smiling face that is covered with a blanket so that it does not catch cold.

On Christmas Eve, before or after dinner, the children hit the Caga Tió with a cane and sing a popular song to make him shit the presents. According to tradition, children should be fed during the month of December with leftover food or fruit peels to make them fat and bring more gifts.

If you want to know more about this original Christmas tradition, you can check out our post about the Caga Tió.


Grapes to celebrate New Year's Eve

In Catalonia and the rest of Spain, New Year’s Eve is celebrated by eating twelve grains of grapes, one for each of the New Year's Eve chimes. When the bells ring, they begin to eat the grapes, which must be finished before the clock stops ticking. It is said that each of the chimes represents a month of the year and that each grape you eat will bring a month of luck in the new year.

The origins of this tradition go back to 1909 in Alicante, a season of great abundance in which there was a great grape harvest. In order to sell the surplus, they invented the ritual of accompanying the last seconds of the year with twelve grapes and it quickly spread throughout the rest of the country.

Although nowadays most people eat grapes at home with family or friends, there are many young people who celebrate it in the most emblematic places, where the television networks that broadcast the bells are located.


The Three Wise Men Parade

Another tradition that is also celebrated in Spain but has a lot of weight in Catalonia is the Three Wise Man Parade (“la cavalcada” in Catalan). It is a parade of floats that takes place on the afternoon/night of January 5, when the three kings from the East arrive in the cities and towns with their pages and helpers.

During the parade, the kings, the pages and the helpers throw candy to the children and they give them their letters so that they can bring them gifts at home during the night, which will open on the morning of January 6, the Three Kings' Day.


The day of Sant Esteve

December 26, the day of Sant Esteve (Saint Stephen), is a holiday in some autonomous communities of Spain. In Catalonia, the family gathers during that day and it is very typical to eat cannelloni, traditionally made with the leftover meat from the previous days.

It is a tradition that links with the Carolingian past of Catalonia, which in the 9th century belonged to the empire founded by Charlemagne and depended on the bishopric of Narbonne, unlike the rest of the Christian Iberian Peninsula.

When there was an important holiday, it was necessary to go to the manor house and people needed time to return home the next day, so Sant Esteve was not a working day. That also explains why the Catalans celebrate during other dates indicated in the religious calendar such as Easter Monday.


Prepare your vacation for 2022

Do you want to come and enjoy these Christmas traditions and much more? Rosamar Hotels will reopen in 2022 so that you can enjoy an unbeatable holiday in Lloret de Mar.

And if you are looking for an experience to give this Christmas, there is nothing better than a vacation to the Costa Brava with the Rosamar Plus gift card.

Book your vacation for 2022 at Rosamar Hotels!

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