All posts filed under: tradition and holiday

Pink rockstars in Roses

Carnival in Roses 2017: colourful, loud, cheerful

Hot rhythms and tight costumes

Samba and hot disco rhythms, that is the motto of carnival at the Costa Brava.
People are having wild parties in Roses, L’Escala, Empuriabrava, Platja d’Aro and other places along the coast of Catalonia.

Dancing all night long

Rising temperatures make it easy to have a street party while dressed in short costumes. Salsa rhythms are roaring from the decorated carriages. At the promenade, people are in party mood. Garishly dressed, people are dancing all night long.

Dancing in the street

In Roses, people know how to make party.

The beat booms far out to the sea

Golden knights waiting for their battles, coloured masks laughing into the crowd: the beat is roaring over the sea. People applaud when  the festive carriages, going from Plaça Catalunya to Plaça Frederic Rahola, pass by. There is a lot of dancing, flirting and singing going on.

Gentlemen of Freixenet

The noble guys from Freixenet know too how to celebrate.

The square in front of the harbour

This year, there have been 62 creatively decorated carriages and lots of marvellous costumes to admire. The mayoress gave the keys of the town to king carnival, who would be in charge for the town during carnival time. At the end of carnival, on Monday before Lent, she got back the keys and power.

Lions partying at carnival

A little party never killed nobody.

Funeral of the sardine

The end of carnival is near when weirdly dressed figures wander through the town of Roses on Monday before Lent (in other parts of Spain this would be Ash Wednesday). After the funeral of the sardine, carnival is officially over. There is big fireworks when the locals set fire to the sardine. In some places, the burning sardine gets carried to the open sea. The legend says that something has to be destroyed for something new to arise…

Partying dragon in Roses

The last party people are walking through the town.

This unique tradition has many explanations:

1. The custom is supposed to originate from 19th-century Madrid. At Ash Wednesday, Lent starts. The townspeople went to the countryside, in order to symbolically bury something. Because during Lent they did not consume any meat, they buried pork ribs, which were called “cerdina“. Over time, while passing on the legend, some mistake happened and “cerdina“ turned into “sardina“ – sardine.

2. In the 19th century, a group of students organized a funeral procession, in order to celebrate carnival one more time and symbolically start Lent.

3. King Charles III. of Spain (1716 – 1788) prohibited to eat meat at Ash Wednesday, instead people were supposed to eat sardines. At Ash Wednesday, temperatures were unusually rising and it got too hot for the sardines and they turned inedible. The smell was unbearable. Therefore, they organized a funeral. This spontaneous procession then became tradition and a party.

4. Other legends tell that the sacrificial offering was part of praying for a large fishing.

Nowadays, it is impossible to truly discover the origin of this tradition. The only certain thing is that the custom terminates carnival with big fuss, before starting again next year.

Some goodies for Christmas

Shops, bakeries and Christmas markets are fulfilled by a seductive fragrance! Delicious cookies sweeten the time until Christmas Eve in every year. The tradition of baking for festivals goes back to pre-Christian times. Cookies “flat-shaped cakes” – are probably the most popular Christmas sweets. Whether outrivaled, modelling, splattering, manually – decorated or pure – the main intention 2015 is called homemade. 

The short pastry is diverse and offers, next to gingerbread, stollen and Co., one of the tastiest delights of the year. We put together some of our favorites and didn’t want to give up a German classic.

Vanilla croissant: sweet goodie of shortcrust

ingredients for a normal portion

  • 300g flour
  • 200g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g powdered almond
  • 1 yellow of an egg

for decorating: vanilla- and sugar powder

Mixing flour and butter to a dough. Add sugar and almonds. Quickly add the yellow of the egg and knead the mass. Now put the dough into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Afterwards form the cold dough as half moons (like croissants) and spread them on a baking tray with baking paper. Meanwhile, preheat the oven and cake the croissants at 150°C until they turn golden yellow. Mixing the sugar powder and vanilla sugar to rotate the fresh croissants in it.

Another option is to add some dried fruits- such as cranberries- to the dough to get a more fruity taste.

Cinnamon stars 

  • 190g sugar powder
  • 100g powdered almond
  • 200g powdered nuts
  • 2 white of egg
  • 1 ts cinnamon
  • some lemon juice

Whisk the white of egg and sugar powder stiff into an icing. Put apart about 1/3 of the rest. Mix the remaining icing with the other ingredients (but initially only 100g nuts). Important, do not fold in with an eggbeater but with a spoon. Knead everything. Arrange the remaining nuts on a baking sheet, place the rolled dough (nearly 8-10cm) on it and cut out some star. Put the stars on a baking sheet with baking paper and generously coat them with the remaining icing. Now cake them for about 10-12 minutes at 150°C.

Homemade hot spiced wine

  • 750ml white wine dry
  • 750ml Rosé
  • 1500ml red wine dry
  • 300g sugar
  • respectively 1 untreated lemon and orange
  • 2 bars of cinnamon
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 star anise

Put all the different types of wine in a large pot and warm them slowly. Important, do not cook the wine! Cut lemon and orange into slices. Add lemon, orange and spices to the wine. Put in the sugar little by little.

Spirits such as Cointreau, brown Rum or Amaretto give a special flavor to the wine.

Semana Santa – Easter in Spain

Images, emotions, incense

Pictures provoke emotions. Pictures are catchy. Pictures are powerful messages.
The media’s flood of images increases over the years and nearly turns into the Flood. Those among you, who like live images or taking a selfie in front of an imposing scenery, must not miss the Semana Santa (Eastern) in Spain.

Verges Easterprozession Spain
The rulers of the Catholic Church have been operating with picture language since the 16th century and invented “preaching through pictures“ by introducing the Easter processions. Those who could not read or write were converted by moving images and touching sceneries. Although most of today’s visitors are able to read, rousing pictures accompanied by drum roll and choral singings, surrounded by a tiny breath of incense, still move the crowds the most. Every year, hounders of processions to do penance attract their visitors to come and so they do in Catalonia. Even famous dignitaries hide under their tapered hoods. Being a member of brotherhoods (Confraries) is an honor and can only be passed on to somebody.

Castello d'Empuries setamana santa
The motto is not only “repentance“ but also love and hope, humanity and compassion are topics which the processions dedicate themselves to. After having marched for miles, people then dance, laugh, and celebrate within the streets. Mysticism and religion go along with cheerful exuberance. Restaurants and bars are opened in many villages until late into the night. Even the Easter procession in Girona no more appears like a gloomy story from the Middle Ages but like a big baroque fair.

Eastern in Spain
The beautiful Madonna carved out of wood and decorated with a magnificent floral decoration appears at night and is the superstar. Being the Christian Virgin, the Goddess, and the heavenly beauty queen, she is the centre of the frenzy of flashing cameras. The „Paso de Christo“ glides through the fascinated crowd, carried unsteadily by strong men.
The mysticism of the scenery – Girona’s beautiful old town being the perfect backdrop – is an experience for your senses which you definitely should not miss.

Verges holy maria Costa Brava

On Maundy Thursday, all bars in Verges are opened throughout the night. The spot vibrates. The dance of death called “Dansa de la mort“ takes place in this medieval spot, located between Figueres and La Bisbal. (www.laprocesso.com) The spectacle dates back to 1666 and catches the visitor’s fascination every year. First, scenes of the Passion of Christ are reconstructed on the market square at 10 pm. At midnight, the crowd forms up into a procession through the small alleys of Verges, led by people dressed like skeletons. Dropping candle wax marks the path. This bizarre spectacle, accompanied by the rhythm of drums, is considered to be one of the most eldest manifestations of church art. Muffled drumbeats, the rattling of chains, strokes of a whip and many visitors characterize the scenery. The backdrop, being the medieval façades of the spot, emphasizes the drama. But even here, people are going to celebrate later on. In the garden of Mas Pi, located in the old town, they will have a drink together.

Pessebres Viventes – Living Cribs

Every year around Christmas time, committed inhabitants of historic medieval villages come together – the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of the cobbler, the hairdresser, the potter or the carpenter. They have fished out the antique tools of their ancestors from sheds and broom closets and are now assembling in courtyards, alleys, and public places to form living pictures. In Báscara, Castelló, Pals, Peralada, and at many other places workshops, markets, and the birth of Jesus become alive. “Pessebres Viventes““Living Cribs“ are tradition in Catalonia and so nearly every village is filled with new life around the Christmas period.

Living Cribs sometimes only take place on one evening but mostly on every holiday. Families and guests will join together being actors or visitors then. One can hear children laughing mixed with the cackle of ducks and chicken, being interrupted by hammering noises coming from imaginary workshops, shrouded in the smoke coming from old chimneys, and lighted up by tiny campfires and the light of torches in the wind. This is the picturesque and colourful scenery which every year creates the right feeling of Christmas – the feeling that Catalonia is on a travel through time back to the birth of Jesus Christ.

In the hinterland of the Costa Brava, in Báscara, you get one of the most impressive stagings. Here, more than 300 amateur actors annually transfer their visitors back to the Palestine of more than 2000 years ago. This crib performance takes place in the medieval alleys and ruins of the municipality since 1973.The living pictures in the midst of the beautiful landscape and on the bank of the river Fluvià, in front of the backdrop of innumerable rocks, springs, and waterfalls are nearly film material.

One crib figure with naked bottom causes serious amazement among non-initiated visitors here in Báscara and at other places. This is probably because you can only find this in Catalonia: Someone pulls down his trousers and puts a stinking poop close to the Christ child and the crib, in the midst of the most beautiful photo motive. If you now assume a new type of joke, you are wrong. This strange happening is a fixed crib ceremonial since the age of baroque. 
The small Caganer – “the crapper“ is considered to be a lucky charm and reflects the Catalan mentality – blithely indifferent to the holy and rather thinking practically of fertilizing the fields and of having a great harvest afterwards. 
If you are looking for the individual lucky charm for 2015 to give for Christmas, you will be spoilt for choice. Football stars, politicians, characters of films, as well as Queen Leticia with naked bottom are available for 16€ onward. The incredible beststeller of the year 2014 is the Pope.

In all holiness we wish you a Merry Christmas and the perfect start into the New Year 2015.

Caganer-Bascara

Christmas Baking – Recipes

Who of us didn’t have the childish anticipation of Christmas, the feeling of butterflies in the stomach when hearing the bell ringing and knowing that the Christ child had come? Who of us coulnd’t wait the door to the living room to be opened and to get access to the Christmas tree, loaded with presents?
This excitement might be fading away over the years but there are many possibilities to get in the right mood for Christmas and to regain a certain kind of anticipation.


There is a current trend towards handmade presents and this is why this year home-made biscuits with almond splits and chocolate or sugar icing can’t be missing at the advent café with the family or friends.
The tradition of having Christmas biscuits goes back to the time before Jesus Christ was born. Back then, winter solstice was celebrated and the people baked so-called “breads for sacrifice“ which they hung up on threads or threw into rivers to frighten evil spirits or demons. According to this Christian tradition, Christmas breads – today’s Christmas cakes – were brought to life. As these cakes were expensive to produce and only wealthy families were able to allow themselves this luxury, people began to bake “small breads“ from which our Christmas biscuits have arisen.

bag-of-biscuits-selected-property

Today, we enjoy Christmas biscuits when drinking tea or coffee or we give them away in little bags, decorated with colourful ribbons or nameplates. Home-made biscuits always are a highlight during the Christmas period and since the 19th century, they are a fixed element of our banquet table.

We are going to share two biscuit recipes from Costa Live’s Christmas baking so that these little delicacies are not missing at your home.

Almond Shortbread

Ingredients:
125 g margarine
125 g icing sugar
2 packets of vanillin sugar
a pinch of salt
100 g flour
100 g oat flakes
100 g ground almonds
100 g almonds without shell
1/2 cup of milk

Beat margarine, icing sugar, vanillin sugar, and salt until it is frothy, then stir in flour, oat flakes, and ground almonds until the mixtures become a smooth dough. Form two rolls of dough and cut off little pieces. Place these pieces on a baking tray, dip the almonds without shell into the milk and place them onto the pieces. Bake it on the middle rack at 175 C for 12-15 minutes.

A kiss from a nut

Ingredients:
2 whites of an egg
125 g sugar
125 g ground hazelnuts
hazelnuts for garnishing

Whisk the egg whites with the sugar until stiff, then take two soupspoons off the mixture. Carefully fold in the ground hazelnuts and form small balls out of it. Press in a small hole and fill in the stiff egg white and put a hazelnut on each ball as a garnish. Bake it at 140-160 C for 20-25 minutes.

Some biscuits bags are waiting for being eaten – so come into our office at Empuriabrava and help them!

Almond-Shortbread

We wish you a Merry Christmas

Christmas is Just Around the Corner

Spending long nights full of candlelight and having a glass of velvety wine at the open fire – Christmas is a festival of touching the senses and every year, it takes the romantic out of us again. We indulge ourselves in sentimental Christmas decoration, we are surrounded by the smell of delicious glühwein and biscuits.

Angel-Decoration-bowl-fir-cone

This year, following the current trend, our ideas for your decoration come right out of nature. Reddishly shining pomegranates, nicely smelling walnuts, cones of stone pine and cypress, moss or dried berries and twigs, wrapped up with wickerwork are staged with candles, glittering baubles in colours of copper, apricot, and berry.


Door wreaths are made of walnuts or cones, accompanied by finds from the sea or by twigs and dried plants from the forest or field – there are no limits to the imagination. 
With colours of silver, gold, and copper one can spray some little highlights on the bricolage. Gleaming and colourful ribbons or golden tinsel put an emphasize on the topic of Christmas.

The Advent calendar has been invented for those who are grumpy in the morning and need to get up easier in the pre-Christmas period. A self-made one always is a special proof of love. One might sew little bags out of remnants, for example, and put in sweets, key fobs, jewellery, and useful little things combined with kind sayings. At the end, one can bind the bags mixed up on a branch or an Advent wreath, paint the 24 numbers on them and the very individual surprise of pre-Christmas is ready to be given to your beloved one.

If you don’t have any sewing machine or remnants at home, also paper bags or small packs can be packed and wildly be hung up on a line. We guarantee that this special Advent calendar will be remembered as a highlight of pre-Christmas for a long time.

Candles-Glasses-wine-leaves

We wish you a Merry Christmas within your family circle

Catalan national flag.

A sign of solidarity – Catalonias human chain at the 11th September

It‘s already 1 1/2 months ago that I left Germany and I pubslished my first article in the Costa Live Magazine Blog a few days after my arrival. It was a text about the Paella eating, Sangria drinking Spanish, the prude Germans and other clischees. Prompt received the editorial staff a mail, which pointed out friendly, that it wasn‘t actually Spain where I was, it was Catalonia – and it took the wind out of my sails. Of course did I know, that the country I was traveling to was called Catalonia and I also knew that it wouldn‘t be easy to talk to the people in Spanish. However, I have to admit, that I always thought of Catalonia as a part of Spain and it’s not until now, that I start realizing how complex and important the topic is.

The flag of independence.

On Wednesday, the 11th Sepetmber 2013, the Catalan national holiday will be celebrated –  and this year it‘s going to be something special, because it will not only be a sign of solidarity and love for Catalonia. The people want to send out a signal for the independence of the state. It has been a long fight for this independence, but it has also been a peaceful fight. Therefore, people from all over Catalonia are going to join hands on Wednesday – the human chain is expected to be 400 km long, connecting one border with the other, and consisting of more than a million people. What is it about this event?

Typical Catalan celebration.

The requirement for the Catalan independence is not without reason. After the victory of Franco in the Spanish civil war in 1939, the dictator forbade both the Catalan language and the culture. It was not until 1977, that the country could regain a limited autonomy and a provisional government, in 1980 the first free elections were held. Nevertheless, there are still various financial and political bonds, that connect Catalonia with the Spanish government in Madrid – especially in the times of crises a quite controversial topic. The human chain on Wednesday is about the cultural identity of a nation, which was deprived again and again.

The Catalan flag appears everywhere.

After reading a few articles about the upcoming events, it‘s easier for me to understand why some people rather communicate with hands and feet than using the Spanish language and why the Bavarian coach Pep Guadiola, known for phrases like „If we get up early and work hard, we gonna be an unstopable nation.“, is now celebrated as a hero of Catalonia. There‘s even going to be a little human chain in my hometown Berlin, at 17.00 o‘clock at the Gendarmenmarkt. Altough I dread to take position to such a complex topic, I hereby apologize for all the misunderstandings and bricks, I‘ve droped in so far – this are probably the most significant identity feature of a German person in a foreign counrty.

A spanish man is smoking a cigar in Cadaqués.

Sun, Sangria, Siesta – What is it about spain?

Paella, sun every day, easy life- the Spanish don‘t wake up before midday, that‘s why they have dinner, when the rest of the world is already asleep. They live on Tapas and Chorizo, they drink buckets full of Sangria, which gives normal people the worst hangover ever and they need an one hour Siesta after every effort (meals included). They‘re only on time, if they‘re going to church or to a bullfight, they bawl all the time, that‘s why Spain is such a noisy counrty. I also prepared myself for all the tanned Spanish guys, named Antonio or José, which whistle to me or immediately take out their guitar to impress me with a romantic lovesong.

Paella is a typical spanish meal.

No, I‘m exaggerating and I know, because I‘m german, how ennoying clichés can be (apparently I‘m a Dirndl – wearing fun killer, who‘s eating nothing but Sauerkraut and sausages) and that almost none of them is true.Still, Spain and Germany are diffrent, there are no two ways about this, and I‘ve got the best conditions to get to known the spanish culture while I‘m here. So, what is it about the Spanish? First I have to admid, that I still haven‘t tried any Paella, also I drank buckets of beer instead of Sangria (that‘s probably quintessentially German) and when I went on the streets early in the morning, they weren‘t empty. I also haven‘t met Antonio or José so far, even tough the Spanish are tanned, they seem to prefere a friendly greeting instead of whisteling and playing guitar.

A Spanish guy is enjoying his Siesta.

Anyway, I need to get used to some things. It seems a bit weird to me, not to start preparing the dinner until it‘s dark and closed shops in the afternoon are not useful.  Apart of that, I really enjoy the Spanish Siesta, when the streets get empty and everybody takes a little break. In Germany, it‘s hard to escape from the hectic rush without feeling guilty. In Spain, fun and freetime seem to be as important as work. Have you ever seen a German person leaving the office to spend a few hours at the lake? Spain consists of more than the sun and the beach – as soon as you get off the touristiy path to explore the counrtyside, you gonna see mountains and wide fields with apple trees and sunflowers, which are as spectacular as the oceanview.

Even tough I‘ve only been here for a week, I‘m already caught up in the relaxed atmosphere – one thing I sometimes really miss in Germany. The Spanish cities seem to be unbelievable vivid and loud (yes, this cliché is definitely true!). It‘s probably the sun that makes the Spanish so tempramental – they get a overdose of endorphines every day. Still, I‘m trying not to fulfil the clichés about Germans – I already had lots of fun, I don‘t have a Dirndl in my baggage and I decided to take it easy. Or, as the Spanish say: „No te preoccupes.“

Salt event – Festa de la sal en – l’Escala Costa Brava

11. + 12.09. 2010 Festa de la sal  l’Escala

A few years ago, the Platja de les Bargues in l’Escala was turned into a place that might have fitted very well into a time now long gone by – and has been turned into this place annually ever since. When the fishers’ life in the XVIII century and the transport of salt are retold in living pictures, being at the beach suddenly feels like having walked into the set of a cloak-and-sword film. The entire village is said to have been living solely of fishery and selling their special anchovies.

Anchovis – L’Escala

Until today, the way anchovies are preserved has not changed much and is still considered to be traditionally linked to L’Escala. Anxoves (Catalan) – anchoa (Spanish) – or anchovies are the most typical product of the region around L’Escala and are loved well beyond the borders of said region. Furthermore, they are a delicious souvenir.

“Goodbye Winter”: Easter in Costa Brava

Costa Brava, right in time for Easter

Spring has come at last, in Costa Brava, right in time for Easter. We enjoy long walks in the mild spring air, enchanted by the beauty of the blossoming flowers. We regain the will to live and love, we satisfy our longing for warmth, light and colours and we reawaken our senses. Energy, exercise, sun, blue sky, singing birds, the sound of the waves on the shore – spring rouses our spirits and a sunny intermezzo on the beach is a real treat after the long cold winter.

You could already breathe in the spring

Some time ago, when we were still living in Germany, we could hardly wait for Easter Break and the sea. As soon as the last day of school was over, all of us would jump into the car and off we headed for the south. After ten hours you would reach Costa Brava.  Flowers on the Costa BravaHaving passed Lion in France you could already breathe in the spring of the South and smell the soft fragrance of lavender and rosemary on the empty motorway at night. Spring fever would begin to stir. Easter in Costa Brava, that meant to say farewell to the long grey winter. Finally, there was the first day at the beach.To jump into the cool waves, feel sand under bare feet and sun on the skin. Pavement cafés humming and brimming with life, sandals, short trousers and shirts, freckles, gulls in the breeze, white sails on the horizon. We are searching for Easter Eggs (a tradition known in Germany) between shells and stones on the shore.
In the evening we sit down on the terrace with a glass of sparkling whine and watch the stars of the south rotate slowly above us. The snow capped Pyrenees are gleaming white on the horizon, ever lasting memories of the cold winter days. Whoever is not tired of snow and cold air yet can go skiing even around the Easter Days. Yet, most people prefer the sun and the sea now.

Unsurprisingly, google finds 325.000 entries if you look up “Easter in Costa Brava”. We will meet next week at the beach!
Let’s hope for a sunny day.