Christmas Time in Barcelona

Published: 21st November 2008
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Christmas Time in Barcelona

As you might expect Christmas in Barcelona is a magical time of year. Visitors are always amazed by the unique Christmas traditions of the Catalan region. One of the more bizarre traditions is the inclusion of a "Caganer" in Nativity scenes. The figurine is immensely popular with Catalans (see left) Caganer means 'pooper' in English and that is exactly what the image is doing - defecating!

One of the most important Christmas icons in Barcelona is that of the crib. Catalan children are always busy making nativity displays in schools at this time of year. And in homes, the children like to have a big one so that they can move the kings slowly closer and closer to the Baby Jesus, to arrive on January 6th - bringing the presents, as in Spain it's traditionally the kings (the Reyes Magos), not Father Christmas, that bring them. Perhaps the 2 best places to see such a nativity scene is the permanent Nativity scene located outside the Sagrada Familiar (see below) and the impressive Nativity scene erected in Plaza Jaume in December each year.

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The Nativity Scene outside La Sagrada Familiar

On the 5th of December every year, the procession of the three kings takes place in Barcelona. The colourful procession goes past some of the city's major monuments and finishes at Montjuic Park, where the magic fountains (see below) perform to classical music written especially for the occasion. The event is truly remarkable and extremely popular, so visitors are advised to get there early.

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From early December until Christmas Eve there is a popular market erected in Plaza de la Seu (nearest Metro Jaume I yellow line) where you can buy everything you need for Christmas from food and presents and even Caganers. There is a constant swarm of crowds at this market throughout the month of December, and is popular with both locals and tourists alike.

If you are religious, midnight mass is an essential part of the Christmas calendar. Midnight mass is extremely popular in all the churches and cathedrals in Barcelona, with the most spectacular masses in the Cathedral in Barcelona city centre and in the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat, just outside of Barcelona. The services are delivered in Catalan, and are a unique experience - even for non-Catholics.

New Year in Barcelona

Welcoming in the New Year in Barcelona is a fantastic experience. You can enjoy the New Year by following the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each chime of the clock. By following this tradition, you can make a silent wish for the forthcoming year. People gather in the streets and main squares in order to welcome in the New Year together.

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Most people go out shortly after midnight and this is when the fun starts! Most bars and nightclubs organize special entertainment and parties to usher in the New Year. Be prepared to carry on partying until daybreak as most parties last until way into the next day. However, be prepared to book your tickets in advance as the best places will be sold out!

Three Kings Day (January 6th)

Three King's Day is one of the most important dates in the Spanish calendar and the night of the 5th of January is one of the most exciting for all Spanish children. The Three Kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) arrive at their homes with all sorts of gifts. The big day is January 6th, when children can open their gifts and have lunch with their family.

The menu can vary a lot from one family to another, but the dessert is the most important and traditional dish: "El Tortell de Reis", a fruitcake-like pastry. It is a very fun and special day and even the dessert is part of the game: inside the Tortell there are two figures, the fava (bean) and a figure of one of the Three Kings. Traditionally, the person who finds the fava in his/her Tortell, pays for the Tortell, and the one that finds the figure of the King, will be for one day "The King of the family" and will wear a paper crown.

To experience a truly memorable Christmas in Barcelona, why not stay with BCN Loft! We make the festive season affordable with unbeatable rates starting from E16 per person for a twin room. We can cater for all you festive needs, all at the cheapest prices around. Visit our website to find out more about the great value for money accommodation we offer. All our rooms are comfortable, private and have access to kitchen and toilet facilities. If you want to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Barcelona, stay with BCN Loft!

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