Christmas time in Catalonia



The other day, while coming from the United Kingdom, I was able to read the magazine of easyjet where I found an interesting and short article about a typical event in Catalonia (Spain), which takes place every year the 24th of December. That has made me think about posting a comment on “Christmas in Catalonia” on the blog, which while we attend to my next travelling article may be quite interesting.

The article said:

[Nativity scenes throughout Catalonia feature a much-loved dissident figure called the “caganer” (or defecator!) Who traditionally takes the form of a partially dressed peasant who “relieves himself” a respectable distance from the Holy Family. With typically subversive panache, many modern “caganers” are crafted to resemble controversial celebrities and notorious politicians.] (by: Easyjet magazine)



Bush as  a Caganer

Bush as a "Caganer"



In Catalonia we say “Merry Christmas” this way: “Bon Nadal”. In Christmas time families gather around and celebrate it together. It is kind of a tradition to have either lunch or dinner in one of your relatives’ house. Meals are abundant and hand-made. It is quite typical to prepare “Escudella” (soup with huge noodle in the shape of a conch) or Seafood casserole; nevertheless, it depends on the family taste and economy. As a dessert, “Turrones” (nougat candies) are the most typical, together with a glass of “Champagne”.

Sopa de Galets

Sopa de Galets

Some may have the luck of having a two week holidays, like schoolchildren do, but the most part of the population have to work during all Christmas time, with the exception of a few national holiday days.

This is the festivity calendar:

24th: “Caga tió” / Noche Buena = We meet to have dinner with the family and children can hit the “tió” toy which has the shape of a three and contains sweets and little presents. This is the night when “Santa Claus” comes for those who celebrate it.



25th: (holiday) Christmas day = We gather with the family to have lunch. It is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

This is how a Christmas table looks!

This is how a Christmas table may look!

26th: (holiday – only in Catalonia). For Catalan people, this is a festive day where usually we also meet with the family.

31st: (working day) Sylvester’s night or “New Years Eve” called “Noche vieja”, which means “old night” in Spanish. When the New Year is about to come (12 seconds earlier), we all eat 12 grapes at the rhythm of the bells those last 12 seconds. We call that “campanadas” (we follow the bells of the clock in Puerta del Sol, Madrid. And it is retransmitted in TV all around Spain). After that we drink a toast to the New Year. Putting a gold ring inside the “Champagne” it’s said to bring good luck as well as wearing red knickers that night.

Campanadas in Puerta del Sol (Madrid)

"Campanadas" in "Puerta del Sol" (Madrid)

Champagne and Grapes

New Year's Eve: Champagne and Grapes

1st: (national holiday). First day of the year! And family meals too.

The Wise Men

The Wise Men

6th: (national holiday) The Three Wise Men = This is the day where children can find presents under the Christmas trees. They meet all the family again and exchange gifts. The night before all citizens can enjoy the “Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos”, which is the procession of the “Three Wise Men” on the streets of each town with music. It is a quite colourful show where sweets are thrown to the audience.

Procession of the Three Wise Men

Procession of the Three Wise Men


Well, more or less that’s the idea! Of course all this is more complex and has a real profound meaning and a history but I am not going to explain it here, not now at least!

So dear reader, I’ve just left to say….. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2009!