Merry Christmas Barcelona
Not like majority of countries, christmas in Barcelona is in january and not in december. It is named “dia de reyes” (day of the kings) or “los reyes magos” (the magi) although you should know them as the wise men.
If you were as Asterix and Obelix, I’m quite sure that you will say “these spanish are crazy” !!! Well spanish and not catalan because the christmas celebration is done everywhere in Spain at the same day.
It doesn’t mean that in december, for the night of 24 and the 25, nothing will be done but don’t expect crazy and boogie things like a parade, Santa Claus singing "jingle bells, jingle bells..." and walking on the street... although Christmas is becoming more popular, Kings's day is the most important.
In the past, the city didn't do a lot of things but since some few years, starting from December 20th until 31, Barcelona transforms some areas of the city but the 25 is quite empty and boring because all the people are at home dining and celebrating it in family like everywhere. After all, it is a familiar celebration.
The difference is that, in Spain, children haven’t the right to open their gift not before the day of the 3 kings although in some families, parents allow them to do it, not all of them but some of them in Christmas.
So what you can do if you are in Barcelona in december ??? Well, you can go to the christmas market called fair of Santa Llúcia (avinguda catedral), in front of the cathedral of Barcelona. There is a fair in each district but this one is the most famous because it is located in the downtown. The market closes 2 days before the christmas eve. At the sant jaume square, there is the traditional representation of the birth of Jesus that everyone can go to see.
The parade of the “carassa”, a tradition dating from the 16th century, which is celebrated every weekend before the christmas day from 12h to 13h30. A carassa is a big head of saracen made of wood or cardboard and meanwhile it walks on the street, it throws candies by the mouth, pulls faces and moves its eyes. Normally, its route is the following: fira de Santa Llúcia, plaza nova, calle arcs, avinguda portal de l´àngel, calle cucurulla (calle portaferrissa, calle petritxol, plaza del pi, plaza de sant josep oriol, calle del pi), calle boters, plaza nova and fira de Santa Llúcia. So prepare a big bag and ready to catch many candies !!!
Although Santa Claus is not part of the spanish tradition, nowadays, in some districts like Sants for instance, a parade is organized especially for him. He made his way because of the influence of the american movies and it exists a campaign against him and in favor of the wise men called “yo soy de los reyes magos” (I am for the kings).
In the market, you can buy a fir-tree, lights and decorations for the tree… Normally, spanish people buy things to create a nativity scene like a crib/crèche, figurines of Jesus baby, Mary, the kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar), sheep… and the traditional “tio de nadal” (christmas log) and the “caganer” (shitter).
The first one is also called “caga tio”, meaning shit log and starting from december 8, parents put inside its empty stomach candies every night and for the night of 24 or the day of 25, depending of the family, children have to hit it with sticks until it will shit the last candy meanwhile singing its song (yes even the log has its own song). If in the house, there is a fireplace/chimney, it will be put inside.
The second one is a small figurine representing someone with his trousers down around his ankles so showing his naked ass with a shit on the ground. Dating from the 18th century, it is the extra figurine to buy for the nativity scene and families will never put him in front of the scene but hiding somewhere, playing hide and seek with children because every morning, kids have to find him and once is done, he has to hide somewhere else to keep playing. In the past, it was believed that if a granger didn’t put a caganer in the nativity scene, he would have bad harvests during the full year. Normally famous persons don’t escape to this caricature so you can find for instance political people (Obama, Zapatero, Rajoy…), royal family (king of Spain, queen of England…), football players (Messi, Ronaldo…) and much more.
Lastly, on the catalunya square, there is a kind of food festival and some activities like concert, dance, etc. but it will open only from 18h except for the 24, until 18h and 31, until 16h and of course, on 25, nothing will be done. To get more information, go to this link, and now that you have all information about what to do in Barcelona in Christmas time, what happens if you come after ??? Well, to celebreate the new year, read my topic Happy New Year Barcelona and for the wise men, read Day of the 3 kings, which is celebrated on january 5/6. And after that, if you are still here, enjoy the sales which last until the end of february.