It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Barcelona. The lights have been switched on, pastisseríes are filling up with festive treats and an array of jolly events are taking place all over the city. Read our guide to celebrating Christmas in Barcelona and make the most of the city’s seasonal offerings. Bon nadal!
Unique Catalan Christmas traditions
Christmas trees, advent calendars, fairy lights and mistletoe have become increasingly popular in Catalonia. But the region has its own, unique holiday traditions. For instance, the Tió de Nadal, more commonly referred to as the Caga Tió (which translates to ‘poo log in English’). This is the Catalan version of Santa Claus and a much-loved figure in Catalan Christmas folklore.
The Tió —a wooden log with an animated face and traditional Catalan barretina hat—is fed orange peel and turrón in the days leading up to Christmas. Then, on Christmas Eve, so long as it has been well looked after, it will ‘poo’ out sweets while children beat it with a stick and sing a traditional song dedicated to the Caga Tió.
Another unusual poo-themed Catalan tradition is the caganer (literally, the ‘pooer’). Traditionally, this is a wooden figurine depicting a village person dropping his trousers and relieving himself. An important part of the nativity scene, the caganer even appears in the official town hall nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume. Nowadays you can find famous actors, singers, politicians and footballers depicted as the caganer. A quirky Christmas gift for family and friends.
As Christmas approaches, pastry shops and bakeries all over the city begin to display classic Christmas sweets in their windows. Forget mince pies and candy canes! In Barcelona you’ll find sweet treats such as turrones (a hard or soft nougat bar made with toasted almonds, honey, eggs and sugar) panellets (small, round almond sweets coated with pine nuts) and nueles (rolled wafer biscuits that go perfectly with a crisp glass of cava).
For some of the best turrón in town, visit Planelles Donat (Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel, 27). Opened in 1850, the family-run store is filled with a tempting selection of turrones in all sorts of exciting flavors. These include crema catalana, chocolate and butterscotch. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the barrio.
Whether you’re looking for handmade gifts, quaint stocking fillers or local delicacies, you will be sure to find the perfect Christmas presents for your loved ones at Barcelona’s Christmas markets. Here’s our top pick:
- Fira de Santa Llúcia de Barcelona: Celebrating its 231st anniversary this year, Barcelona’s oldest and biggest Christmas market is located in front of Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. Here you’ll find over 300 stalls with a range of festive goodies, including ornate decorations, nativity figures and even caga tiós.
- Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia: Christmas is coming to Sagrada Família! You’ll find homemade trinkets and confectionary sold from little wooden huts at this lively market. What better way to get in the Christmas mood?
- Fira de Reis: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes is home to this annual Christmas market once again. Get your hands on a quirky range of children’s toys and sweets from over 168 independent stalls.