Celebrate Christmas and New Year as a local in Barcelona

Christmas and New Years Eve in Barcelona like a local

In this article, you will find out how to live this Christmas as any local in Barcelona and learn more about local ways and traditions of this holiday.

Santa Llucia

Well, let’s start with one of the oldest and most beautiful flea markets – Fira de Santa Lucia. Here on Plaza de la Catedral (Pla de la Seu, 08002 Barcelona), local Barcelonians make Christmas shopping for over 200 years. You’d find many locally produced gifts and souvenirs from our artisans.

Santa Llucia market in Barcelona

One of these traditional gifts is nothing more than a flower called Flor de Navidad. This tradition took off when someone noticed its only flowers in December just before the Christmas and its colour is just right for the celebrations.

He probably took one of them and brought to his relatives. And just like that, it caught on.

Flor de Navidad

Nativity scenes

There’s a big part of stands dedicated to Nativity scenes (called Belen, or Pessebre). It’s an old tradition throughout Spain to buy one of those scene parts or objects and then fill in lacking details one by one over years.

Belen Santa Llucia

As some of my Spaniard friends confirm, they started their “Belen when they were 3 and finished by the time they were teenagers or even adults, passing the whole thing to their own children.

You could probably find just any object in miniature. There’s miniature trees, bushes, sand hills, buildings, water creeks, animals, prophets, roman soldiers, anything you’d want.

Nativity scene parts on Santa Llucia market

There are even parts of figures so you could assemble anything you like by yourself. It’s a very good tradition for parents to help their kids with Belen.

At some point, Belen is like an old-school Lego game. Its main advantage is that it’s only limited by your own imagination.

Caganer

No matter what is your desired Nativity scene, there’s always a Caganer – the guy caught up in the scene pooping. These traditions started in the 18th century and it’s a sign of good luck to have one in your scene.

Caganers Santa Llucia

It’s a great gift idea because of it’s a symbol of prosperity and good health. Nowadays, there are Caganers made for every taste, you’d find Darth Vader, Princess Leia, President Obama, Steve Jobs or Oprah, etcetera.

Caganers in Barcelona

The good news is, this is an authentic Catalan souvenir, it’s usually handmade and produced locally, meaning no Chinese production is involved in the process.

Don’t be shy and take a couple of these lovely figures home to your friends and family, they would definitely love the detail, especially when they’d know it’s only found in Catalonia. Caganers could also be bought on the internet, but there’s nothing more thrilling to choose one on the occasion.

Caga Tió

There’s another character that could catch your attention, its Caga Tió – kind of a fire log with the smiley painted face which seems to be very friendly. And there’s no party for kids in the city without him.

caga tio

He’s being brought to the house at 8th of December and “feed”, as parents say to the children, with Turron and oranges. On the Christmas’s Eve, kids start kicking this log with the stick and expect to find some sweets under the blanket.

Eventually, the sweets start to fall off the blanket, which makes kids even more excited. Right after they finished their messy business, there are horrible scenes to be seen around Catalonia with fallen Caga Tió’s

cagatio in vic

Decorations

You’d also find the Mistletoe branches on the stands, a parasitic plant that grows on trees like an oak or apple and bears white berries in winter. It’s mainly used for decoration purposes and looks just great in combination with flowers and other Christmas elements.

Mistletoe in Santa Llucia

 

And of course, you’d find lots of different traditional Christmas trees.

chrismas trees on Santa Llucia market

This market starts in early December and opened till 23rd of December, so it’s definitely recommended to visit the market if you’d happen to visit Barcelona these days.

New Year’s Eve in Barcelona

In the last few years, Barcelona has converted to one of the top destinations to meet the New Year’s Eve thanks to the celebrations organised by the local government.

The main stage and meeting point of the New Year’s Eve(called Nochevieja) is Plaza Espanya, and it makes a perfect sense being one of the biggest squares in the city centre.

New Years Eve Plaza Espanya

Every year, the theme and decorations are different but what remains the same is the huge fire show that starts right after the clock struck 12 (called Campanadas).

Maybe you’ve asked yourself why you’d see champagne glasses filled with grapes in every supermarket one week before the New Years. Well, here’s one hell of a tradition in Spain to eat 12 grapes while the clock’s ticking.

Prepare 12 grapes for New Years Eve

So when going to Plaza Espanya for New Year’s Eve, take one of those in the supermarket for you and your friends, to have the best of luck during the year to come. I sincerely don’t know how they achieve to eat them so quickly.

New Years in Barcelona

Nothing new in the world so right after it happened, you’re supposed to kiss someone so brace yourself, and kiss or be kissed.

The Three Kings Day in Barcelona

The Three Kings Day that closes the chain of Christmas holidays is celebrated on the 6th of January in Barcelona as well as the rest of Spain. On this day children get their long-awaited Christmas gifts brought by three Wizard Kings (Reyes Magos).

The Kings of the Orient are almost here! Await;)

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Like their ancient evangelic characters, which came from the east to greet new-born Jesus, they are named Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

According to the tradition, they come to Barcelona’s old port on the Saint Eulalia ship on the 5th of January, met by the whole lot of people. After the first greetings, the Kings proceed to the city.

The three kings parade in Barcelona

Each king proceeds across the town in his own waggon surrounded by henchmen, Devils and chimney-sweepers that generously shower exultant spectators with sweets.

The Three Kings coming in Barcelona

Next morning the gifts left by the Kings await the little ones. Like in any other country, children write a list of their most special wishes.

Reyes Magos procession

However, there is one additional detail in the traditions of Barcelona.

It is important to leave something delicious for the Kings as they need to take a long way back home – a perfect reason to treat wizards with Catalonian delicacies.

Come to Barcelona for Three Kings Day and catch your lucky candies!

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