It’s December and the magic of Christmas is everywhere in Catalonia.
During this time of year, the towns and cities of this Spanish region are filled with lights, markets and fairs, shows and other Christmas customs.
There are many Christmas traditions in Catalonia that you can enjoy first-hand if you're here over the festive season - read on to find out more!
How is Christmas celebrated in Catalonia?
In most of Spain, the highlight of the Christmas festivities is Christmas Eve, on 24 December. However, this celebration is not typical in Catalonia, where the 24th is not a public holiday and the most important day of Christmas is the 25th December, when all Catalan families gather around the table.
Another distinction of Christmas in this region is that 26 December, St. Stephen's Day, is a public holiday that is also celebrated with the family. This day is only celebrated in Catalonia and is a working day in the rest of Spain.
Other special elements and traditions of Christmas in Catalonia that you should know about:
The Catalan Yule log is surely one of the most interesting and traditions of Catalan culture. The famous Tió is a wooden log with a painted face that is covered with a blanket and fed during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. The aim is that, when the date arrives, the Tió "defecates" presents and sweets for the whole family. To achieve this, the children sing traditional songs and hit the tree trunk with a stick. Some families go to the forest to look for their own Tió every year, making it a fun tradition for the little ones.
Els pastorets (Little shepherds)
One of the essential elements of Christmas in Catalonia, the pastorets are theatrical representations with a Christmas theme, always around the first Christmas and the birth of the baby Jesus, where shepherds usually appear in comical situations.
Living nativity scenes
Another of the most typical traditions that can be enjoyed in Catalonia during Christmas are the living nativity scenes, representations of the Nativity that are performed with people in costume. They are very common at Christmas fairs in Catalonia. One of the most famous is undoubtedly the nativity scene in Castell d'Aro, the oldest in the region, where approximately 300 people take part, a spectacle that is well worth a visit!
The Caganer figure
Another peculiar Christmas character in Catalonia is the Caganer, a figure that appears in the nativity scene next to the Nativity of Jesus. The Caganer is traditionally a peasant with the traditional Catalan cap (barretina) who is bent over doing his business. However, nowadays Caganers of all kinds of famous people such as politicians, singers, footballers, fictional characters... are created as a reflection of current world events.
Christmas food in Catalonia
What do you eat at Christmas in Catalonia? These are the most typical dishes, which are accompanied by the traditional turrones, polvorones and Christmas sweets, as well as wine and cava.
The soup of galets or Christmas escudella is the most typical Catalan Christmas dish. It is a delicious broth made with vegetables, poultry and high-quality meat, accompanied by a thick shell-shaped pastry. Catalan Christmas soup usually includes a ball of minced meat and garlic, and is enriched with sausage, ham and pork parts. It is a very comforting winter dish that takes many hours of work.
St. Stephen's cannelloni
Tradition dictates that on 26 December cannelloni are served filled with leftover ingredients from the escudella soup and other meats served at Christmas. This typical Christmas meal in Catalonia is served in most homes, although few families actually use the leftovers to make cannelloni. It is usual to prepare the filling several days in advance.
12 grapes on New Year’s Eve
As in the rest of Spain, in Catalonia it is a tradition to end the year eating 12 grapes to the sound of the first twelve strokes of midnight. This is a symbol of good luck and economic fortune for the coming year. The tradition comes from a very curious fact: in 1909 there was a surplus in the grape harvest and citizens were encouraged to say goodbye to the year in this way. Spaniards usually eat the grapes while watching special programmes on TV where the chimes are broadcast.
Your hotel for Christmas in Catalonia
If you are looking for hotels for Christmas in Catalonia, we invite you to stay at the hotel Mas de Torrent, where you will experience an unforgettable Christmas with the best traditions in an idyllic setting.
Discover our plans for Christmas in Costa Brava, which includes the celebration of the traditional Tió de Nadal for children, live music, Christmas decorations and much more.
In the restaurant of our 5-star hotel and spa you can enjoy exclusive Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Eve menus, including the typical escudella, St. Stephen's cannelloni, nougat and other Christmas sweets. We also have a children's menu designed especially for the little ones.