In Catalonia, the key dates are Christmas Day and Boxing Day (St. Stephen’s Day). On these days, tables brim with delicious traditional Christmas dishes. Galets soup (shell-shaped pasta), carn d’olla (meat and vegetable broth) and pilota (ground minced beef, with eggs and breadcrumbs), take centre stage as the main dishes on Christmas Day. On Boxing Day, meat cannelloni, made with Christmas Day leftovers, is traditional.
Don’t miss our traditional sweets, neulas (wafer biscuits), turrones (nougat), with chocolate, hazelnut, coconut, etc. an endless variety to sweeten these dates. Be sure to toast with cava!
Stroll around the main cities decorated with colourful lights that brighten up buildings and streets. Explore the giant Christmas trees found in the main city squares, such as Catalonia Square in Barcelona (Plaza Cataluña), and don’t miss the City Hall on Sant Jaume Square to see another Catalan tradition: the Nativity. Each year, a hugely impressive nativity scene is displayed – admired by locals and tourists alike.
Visit the local Christmas markets, the best known being Santa Llúcia, where you’ll find Christmas decorations, handmade Nativity figures, Poinsettias (traditional red-coloured Christmas plant), and one of our most unique traditions: the caganer. A little figure squatting down “doing his business”, with a barretina (traditional Catalan beret). The caganer is placed in a corner of the nativity scene, and brings good luck and fortune. You’ll come across thousands of caganers, as there’s currently a trend of using celebrities “squatting” as caganers, meaning we’ll see everyone from Trump to Madonna.
We don’t celebrate Father Christmas; instead we celebrate “cagar el tió”, a log (usually pine) covered with a red blanket. To the tune of a traditional song, the log is gently hit with a stick and presents fall out. Traditionally, the log produced sweets, but it now provides gifts of all kinds for children and adults alike.
Visit Catalonia this Christmas, a treat for any lover of local traditions and good food.