Barcelona is a fantastic place to be at Christmas. Apart from the standard twinkling lights, temporary ice rinks and very jolly Father Christmases that spring up both here and in almost every other major city come on the 1st December, Barcelona has some surprises...
The Fira de Sant Llúcia is Barcelona's oldest Christmas Market and has stood on la Plaça de la Catedral in front of Barcelona Cathedral for over 200 years. Taking place from the 30th November to 23rd December La Fira de Sant Llúcia sells artisan and craft items including figurines for Nativity displays, traditional instruments, handmade gifts, as well as flowers and plants.
The Fería de Navidad de la Sagrada Familia takes place just in front of Gaudí's masterpiece and although smaller and younger than Santa Llúcia this Christmas market has over 100 stalls selling mainly Christmas decorations and traditional gifts. Add to that the spectacular backdrop of the Sagrada Familia and it doesn't make a bad photo souvenir either.
Some traditions can be hard to get your head around if you're a stranger in these lands and perhaps none are more difficult to explain than el Caga tió and el Caganer (more on him later.) El Caga tió is a friendly-looking log with a smiley face, jaunty barretina (a traditional Catalan hat) and a nice warm blanket that every night Catalan children give a little bit of food to. This is all in the hope that comes Christmas day the tió will, as the children sing a special song and hit him with sticks, essentially defecate sweets, nuts, and torrents. The name Caga tió comes from the song the children sings and in simple terms means 'shitting log'. Definitely not the easiest tradition to explain...
If you thought the idea of a log that defecates sweets was difficult to comprehend here comes el caganer. Most Nativity scenes around the world contain Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Angel Gabriel, the Three Wise Men and a shepherd or two. However in Catalonia, there is another character on the scene, and he's doing something slightly odd... El caganer is a small figurine of what we can politely call a man going to the toilet in Baby Jesus' stable. Traditionally he is depicted as a Catalan peasant wearing the barretina though in recent years figures of famous faces have become more popular. The origins of the caganer are unclear though for many he is a fun figure for children to find.
Turró in Catalan or turrón in Spanish is a traditional Christmas sweet usually made with almonds and could be compared to nougat. There are two main traditional types of turró, one brittle and dry from Alicante and the other soft and chewy from Jijona, though many other varieties exist and in recent years ingredients such as chocolate and praline have been added. Turró is usually served as a dessert or sweet snack during the Christmas period.
!El Palauet Living Barcelona wishes you a very Merry Christmas!
¡El Palauet Living Barcelona os desea una Feliz Navidad!
!El Palauet Living Barcelona us desitja unes Bones Festes!