They say: “You should celebrate the festivals whenever they are!” Good, that there are numerous celebrations around New Year. First of all: Christmas.
In Catalonia they attach importance to spend the time with the family. On the 24th of December they are having a copious dinner and clink glasses with Cava. Seafood, poultry, precious ham cheese and smoked salmon are probably the most popular elements of Christmas dinner.
An old tradition is to wear at least one new garment on Christmas Eve. This pledges luck for the next year. The old custom turned into buying a complete new outfit for Christmas Eve, wherewith the boutiques are not unhappy.
The living cots
Another highlight are the living cots, which can be seen in many mediaeval villages right before Christmas. The authentic coulisse is perfectly staged by the inhabitants.
The whole village participates in the festival, to move their town into the Palestine of 2000 years ago. The most popular “Pessebre vivent” takes place in Báscara. But also the one in Pals belongs to the most beautiful cots. It´s not just Jesus with his parents and the three Magi you can marvel at. In the whole village craftsmen, chandlers, farmers and jugglers do their work as if they lived 2000 years ago. Everything is feastfully enlightened. The former life on market and in villages is impressively displayed. Bread is baked, flax is yarned, there are smiths, cooks and everybody celebrates. The most important biblical story can be witnessed here. The celebration attracts more and more people every year.
In Catalonia the “Tío de Nadal”
In Catalonia the “Tío de Nadal” might seem the most exotic tradition. “Tío” is the catalan name for a burning stump, which warmed the houses in former times. Then, it was a denotative present. Although most houses do not have a fireplace in their house anymore, many catalan families take a stump in the christmas time and adorn it with a red nose, a coat and a cap. From the 8th of December (Día de la puríssima) on, the children feed him with pumkins, potatoes and vegetables. On Christmasday the “Caga Tío” lets presents fall out of his behind: sweets and toys – sometimes also a bottle of champagne for the adults. If finally just onions and garlic appears the stomach of the “Tío” is completely empty.
After the Christmassy holidays there´s just small time to relax. Few days later the “Feliz ano Nuevo!” has to be celebrated. Of course the culinary side is the most important for the Catalans. On the verge of New Years Eve they have dinner with family and friends. A tradition for this occasion is to eat twelve grapes in the last twelve secconds of the year. It promises luck for every month of the following year. Different to other countries, the spanish people do not enkindle firework, but play parlour games and dance until the small hours.
On the day of the three Magi the waiting for presents finally ends for the children. The three kings from the Orient arrive by camel, train or boat in every town in the evening of the 5th january. To present a dignified greeting, music is played and you join the three Magi on their procession through the town. In glad expectation the children wonder if the three might have received their list of wishes?! In Girona one can find the most magnificent procession. But also in Roses and L´Estartit the three Magi wander around and give sweets to the children.
An old custom is it to eat a cake on the 6th of january, wherein a small figur of a king and a hard bean is. The one who has the figure in his piece might be the king for one day. The one who´s got the bean has to pay for the cake.
By January 8th, however, everyone finally returns to everyday life – until then, we wish you all the best for the festive season!
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