Christmas in Barcelona

Holiday Festivities in the Catalan Capital

Christmas in Barcelona
Image: (c) Chris Hupp

Christmas in Barcelona is a fun event, in particular for the curious traditions unique to the Catalan region (see below). However, if it is a white Christmas you are after, Barcelona isn't the place to go as snow is very rare in Barcelona.

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Weather in Barcelona at Christmas

Barcelona normally stays above 10°C (around 50°F) around Christmas time. It tends to be dry. Read more about Barcelona Weather in December.

Scatalogical Christmas Traditions in Barcelona

Most regions don't even get one poo-related traditional figure, but the Catalans get two (some of you might find the following a little distasteful):

  • Caganer A little porcelain gnome-like figure with his trousers down, defecating somewhere in the nativity scene. Children enjoy looking for the little guy, who is often hidden among the more traditional items. Surprisingly not invented by the post-South Park generation - Caganer has been offering his unique presents to the nativity scene since at least the middle of the 18th or 19th century, depending on who you believe, although in recent years the Catalan government has banned him from official displays. See a picture of a Caganer.
  • Tio de Nadal or Caga Tió A log, painted with a smiley face and cared for from after El Dia de Inmaculada, which is December 8. Then, either on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve (it varies), the children beat the log (and throw him into the fire, if they have one) and sing songs enticing it to 'shit some presents'. Spanish speakers among you should note that 'Caga Tió' does not mean 'Shit Uncle' - 'tió' is Catalan for 'log'. See a Caga Tio.

Christmas Market in Barcelona

The Fira de Santa Llucia runs from early December until Christmas Eve and can be found outside the Cathedral, in Plaça de la Seu and Plaça Nova. (nearest Metro: Jaume I). Here you will find all sorts of hand made gifts, intricate nativity scenes and the Caga Tió log (something you'll struggle to find outside Barcelona!). The market opens on November 30, 2013. Read more on Fira de Santa Llucia

Open-Air Christmas Ice Rinks in Barcelona

There is an open air ice rink at Plaza Catalunya, opening in late November and closing in early January.

Christmas Eve in Barcelona

Midnight mass as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day is very important in Spain (presumably as the Catholics rush to confess to their Christmas gluttony!)

The biggest 'misa del gallo' is at the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat near Barcelona

Three Kings Procession in Barcelona

On December 5, as is the case throughout Spain, the Three Kings lead their procession through the city. In Barcelona the procession starts shortly after five o'clock at Portal de la Pau and finishes around nine at Montjuïc. You can expect large crowds, so arrive early.

On the night of December 5, children leave a shoe out for the Three Kings to fill (stockings clearly aren't so common in this Mediterranean climate!).

Nativity Scenes in Barcelona

There is one obvious nativity scene that every visitor to Barcelona should see - the permanent nativity scene at La Sagrada Familia. There is also a big display at the Cathedral. The Catalan word for 'nativity' is 'pessebre' while in Spanish it is 'belén'.

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