Country that you go, culture that you find!
Barcelona presents a wide panorama of very suggestive traditions and festivities of great cultural importance.
In this article, Lolita B and B will tell you some of the most beautiful and characteristic of the city.
La Sardana and the Castells
The parties of Catalonia are all accompanied by the sardana, a typical dance that is danced in a circle, joining hands and raising arms. The circles get bigger and bigger as people join the group.
Another very ancient and important cultural event in Catalonia are the castells, real human towers. The tradition is native to Tarragona but spread throughout the Catalan territory. The different districts of each city challenge each other to create the highest castells and at the top of each castle a little girl is climbed, the ‘enxaneta’, who reaches the top and raises her arm.
Originally the castellers were part of the sardana, but over the time it has become a practice in its own right and since 2010 the castellers are Unesco’s intangible heritage.
There is no a specific date to be able to attend this show, but it features many festivities in Barcelona, from the great patron festivals such as La Mercè, the Diada de Catalunya, to more restricted events such as the neighborhood parties.
The book and the rose
On April 23rd, the patron saint of Catalonia is celebrated in Barcelona: Sant Jordi, who is here the party of lovers, but also of culture!
Tradition has it that the boys give a red rose to the girls, and that these in turn give them a book. The rose recalls the legend of which we have already spoken in another article. The story says that San Jordi killed a dragon to save the princess of Montblanc, and a red rose was born from the blood of the beast spilled on the earth. The tradition of the book is more recent and is an institutional initiative to promote reading among young people. Sant Jordi’s day is really special, the whole city dresses up and the streets are crowded with people and stalls selling books and roses.
Must to visit on this day: the Ramblas, Paseo de Gracia and Rambla Cataluña, which are just a few minutes walk from our bed and breakfast, right in the center!
At other points in Barcelona we can find sardanas, exhibitions, open doors to emblematic buildings, castells, or even cultural activities such as photo contests, readings or concerts.
The bonfires of Sant Joan
Another important tradition of Barcelona, much loved by its inhabitants, is that of the night of Sant Juan.
It is a very old tradition, which originates from the pagan festivities of the summer solstice. In fact, that of bonfires is a custom that goes back to the cult of the Sun, while fire, which symbolizes purity, keeps evil spirits away.
In the night between 23rd and 24th June the beaches of Barcelona are populated by people of all ages, they light bonfires, eat, drink and sing!
Protagonists of this night, often described by the Catalans as “Nit del Foc”, are bright and noisy firecrackers and fireworks.
The Giants are large wooden statues that parade through the city during the patronal or neighborhood events.
That of the Giants is a tradition of Barcelona also common to other Spanish cities, such as Pamplona and Valencia.
They represent historical figures such as kings, queens and knights, but also Moorish princes and princesses, figures that evoke Arab domination in Spain.
Each Giant moves thanks to the people carrying them supporting them from the cavities inside the statues.
Major de la Mercè Festival
La Mercè is one of the most important and beautiful event of Barcelona, a celebration that involves almost the whole city, with a program that in a few days concentrates an impressive number of free activities (more than 600), for all ages and lifestyles.
La Mercè is the patron saint of Barcelona and its festivities begin on September 24th, on this date the Fiesta Mayor begins!
According to local legend, the festival dates back to when the Virgin de La Mercè saved the city from a terrible invasion of locusts in 1687.
On this day you will see the performances of street artists, human castles, papier-mâché giants, and you can also attend the evocative correfocs, or groups of runners dressed up as devils running through the streets with fireworks and firecrackers in their hands .
The ride of the Wise Men
They arrive on time every 5th of January with their camels and their crowns, they come from distant exotic countries. On this date Barcelona remembers the Wise Men who went to pay homage to the Child Jesus with a parade of decorated floats, colorful characters and animals and with the three Wise Men passing candy and sweets in the crowd. The celebrations take place just a few steps from Lolita B and B.
El Caganer and el Tió de Nadal
The caganer is a characteristic statue of Catalan folklore, depicting a person in a squatting position intent on defecating, yes … you got it right!
It is placed in the Christmas cribs of the region and according to tradition it is a resident of the countryside dressed in traditional Catalan costume, complete with a red cap (barretina in Catalan). It is said that this tradition brings good luck and happiness but if you decide not to place it inside a crib it can also be a cause of misfortune.
This figure is fully accepted by the Church. The caganer would make the representation of the nativity more “human” and real, but its deeper meaning can be linked to a rite of fertilization of the earth for a prosperous and happy new year.
Since more recent times, the statue has been updated giving it often the appearance of popular figures from the world of politics and sport. You can find them in the souvenir shops, they are very nice!
Curiously, the caganer is not the only “Christmas” character of the Catalan culture depicted during his bodily functions. There is also the tradition of tió de Nadal, or cagatió, or a stub which they have set eyes on, a smiling mouth and a small cap. It is placed at the center of the house with a blanket on it, and the children are invited to beat it so that … how to say … do “his needs”.
While the children beat him they sing a nursery rhyme to encourage the log to “churn out” the sweets: “Caga tió, caga torró pel naixement del Nostre Senyor, yes no et give a cop de bastó” (Poo, Poo nougat, for the birth of Our Lord, otherwise I will be clubbing you), after which the blanket is removed and the sweets that the Tód de Nadal has produced are discovered. All this takes place in the general joy of the “nochebuena” (the evening of Christmas Eve in Spain).
The hope that the Catalans exchange before moving to the table is an explicit “Menja bé, caga fort!”, Which we do not believe requires translation!
If you decide to come to Barcelona in one of these periods, your stay will be even more interesting and enjoyable, and Lolita B and B will be pleased to provide you with all the information you need!
Moreover, thanks to the excellent location of our property, it will be very easy to reach the places of interest and the events of the city.
We really hope you enjoyed our article, let us know with your likes and shares and visit our Facebook and Instagram page!
Que os vaya bien chicos! Stay tuned;)
Lolita B and B