Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

spanish people love to celebrate and christmas is no exception in that regard! the festive period that proceeds christmas covers a large part of the december month and is build up by many national bank holidays. if you come to barcelona during the month of december, you should definitely have the following special dates in mind in order to fully experience the catalonian christmas vibe:

• 6 December – constitution day (bank holiday)
• 8 December – day of the immaculate conception (bank holiday)
• 25 December – christmas day (bank holiday)
• 26 December – boxing day (bank holiday in catalonia)
• 1 January – new year’s day (bank holiday)
• 5 January – parade of the three kings
• 6 January – three wise kings’ day (bank holiday)


christmas lights in barcelona

christmas celebrations in spain basically implies many colourful christmas lights spread out over the city´s main streets and boulevards, extensively decorated nativity scenes and many food stalls selling sweet almonds or roasted chestnuts. all of this creates a lovely festive atmosphere that forms a warm welcome for all the tourists visiting spain at this time. for spanish people this time is characterized by many family gatherings and local customs as spain is a country with comprehensive cultural roots. below we will discuss the some of the most important events, main traditions and must-see sights in barcelona.


hotel majestic 5* fully decorated for christmas

the real christmas holiday season in spain kicks off on december 8th with dia de la inmaculada concepcion (day of the immaculate cnception). this is a religious celebration and catholics around the country rejoice the magical “conception” of virgin mary in the local churches, but it’s also the time when the proper christmas preparations can start and all the stores in barcelona come to life with all kind of perky holiday decorations and music to cheer up the shoppers.


el corte ingles, all lit up for christmas

to continue on the shopping note, christmas markets are probably the most common feature that pops to mind when talking about the christmas time for many people. barcelona is a city that upholds a strong christmas market tradition and every year both inhabitants and tourists can enjoy the beauty of the lit up stalls and the many special decorations and attributes that can be found there. the two most famous markets are the fira de santa llúcia christmas market and the fira de nadal at the sagrada familia.


fira de santa llúcia

the fira de santa llúcia was first set up in 1786 and has since been one of the most important christmas fairs in town. its location, in front of the cathedral, and the fact is it is one of the oldest fairs in town contribute its importance as well. as is deeply rooted into the catalan christmas traditions, the market brings many stall that sell candles, scarves, sweets and of course nativity scenes, do not expect mulled wine here but enjoy over 270 stalls and live music instead. a very popular and traditional figure is “el caganer” (the pooper), to be found hidden in catalan nativity scenes and to be bought at all christmas markets. another special creature is the christmas “caga tio” (a smiley face log) from which the children receive their presents.

the market is open every day from the 28th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h30 until 20h30.


many “caga tio” atributes are sold at the christmas markets in barcelona

the christmas market fira de nadal which is takes place in front of the sagrada familia every year and even tough it is much smaller than the fira de santa llucia yet very impressive due to its magical setting. It also focusses more on attributes that can be used to create a nice nativity scene. among others, one can find a wide selection of honey, sweets and candles.

this market is open every day from the 29th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h00 until 22h00.


torre agbar during the month of december

when talking about christmas, the real city decorations can of course not be overlooked! here in barcelona the emblematic christmas lights were switched on by the mayor of barcelona, last friday and can be enjoyed in more than 300 locations and streets of the city. in catalan they are called “els llums de nadal”. the famous magic fountain of montjuic is part of the christmas lights as well and a special christmas water and music show can be enjoyed here in the december month. this show is always free and can be watched on fridays and saturdays in december and on 25th december and 1st january between 19:00 to 21:00. please keep in mind to dress warmly! another part of barcelona’s christmas lights is the torre agbar tower in the sant marti district, which lights up and shows a special christmas lights show displaying animated designs including christmas tree decorations.


the montjuic fountain christmas-style

the three wise men parade on the 5th january is called the night of the three kings and marks more or less the end of the holiday season. here in spain, the christmas tradition is that the three kings bring the presents for the children instead of santa claus like in many other countries around the world. this night there is a big parade celebrating that the three kings have arrived and then, the day after the parade, on the 6th january, the children get their presents.

enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in barcelona!


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christmas lights are starting to appear in shops and city centres all across the country, the temperatures are dropping, and the talks about the christmas national lottery are already in full swing. this can only mean that the winter and the holidays are coming, and with them all the wonderful  and magical traditions cherished by spaniards and travellers to spain alike.

1. all over the country during december, you will find winter and christmas markets, where you can buy or just admire plenty of christmas-related must-have´s:  christmas trees, crafts and candles, home-made items, fruits and sweets.  the most famous markets are the ones in madrid and barcelona, but cities and town all over the country get adorned for the holidays: bilbao, zaragoza, valencia, granada are just a few.

BeFunky_market_better - by rod casro

2. another nationwide, centuries-old tradition is the spanish christmas lottery ´el gordo.´ one of the oldest in the world, it also has one of the biggest prizes each year. this comes at a cost though: the price is around 20€, friends and family often share the ticket price to participate, and if they are lucky, split the winnings! the ´big day´ is on the 22nd of december, when it is common for families and friends to get together to watch the draw.

BeFunky_loteria by álvaro ibáñez

3. food in spain is nearly sacred all year long, but during the winter period the streets and houses of spain are filled with a wonderful show involving all senses, made of various dishes and flavours. perhaps the most unique and eye-catching for the holidays are the sweets: turron is the ´king´ of spanish christmas sweets, a variety of nougat that is prepared in different ways, that has been documented since the 15th century.  mazapán (marzipan) and rosquillos de vino (ring-shaped cookies flavoured with wine and anise or cinnamon) are also very popular treats. yet another special smell and taste that spanish people associate with the cold season and christmas: delicious castañas asadas (roasted chestnuts), which fill the streets of spain from autumn.


4. representative of longheld religious traditions in spain, during christmas many cities and villages organise belenes vivientes, which are live large-scale performances about biblical scenes. the best known representations take place in buitrago de lozoya located in northern madrid, a charming village which offers the best setting between its walls and towers and the lozoya river.befunky_ cabalgata by Antonio J. de la Cerda 2

5. on the 28th of december, the spanish people celebrate the day of the innocent saints, a day when it is custom to make jokes and pranks, including for the national media, which publishes ridiculous and comical news. when the joker, or the pranker, is discovered, they are ´blamed´ in a friendly way by singing ´inocente, inocente!´ (innocent, innocent!).BeFunky_Inocentes

6. if the new year catches you in madrid, you will be able to enjoy a typical tradition happening every year at midnight in puerta del sol, the very centre of spain:  following the rhythm of the 12 strokes, spanish people eat 12 grapes, in celebration of the new year to come. the midnight countdown is followed by fiestas that last the whole night and a reinvigorating portion of churros con chocolate in the morning.


7. after new years´ you can celebrate the magical three wise men parade on the 5th of january, which precedes the day of the three wise men. in spain, it is traditional to give christmas gifts on this day, the 6th of january, rather than on the 25th of december. nevertheless, this tradition does not stop people from giving gifts on both days!befunky_ cabalgata by Ayuntamiento E.L.M. Real Cortijo de San Isidro

8. from the end of november, visitors can also enjoy the wonderful show of christmas lights in major cities across spain. every year in madrid, some of the best-known designers, architects and artists leave their marks on the city, creating light installations placed along the streets to surprise the locals and visitors.lights.jpg

sweets, gifts, songs, holidays and a magical aura that surrounds the streets and people of spain during winter time, these ingredients raise spain above the reputation of a sun-sand-and-summer destination to a culturally interesting country all year long.

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