Have you wondered what the Barcelona Christmas holidays are like? That’s a perfect opportunity to learn Spanish in Barcelona while enjoying the holiday season in a very special place.
But wait, don’t book your flight just yet! There are a few things that you must know to make the most out of it.
The dates (don’t forget January 6th!)
You are probably thinking about what to do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and maybe New Year’s Eve but you should also consider a day that is crucial in Spain during the holidays: January 6th. That’s the day where the “Three Kings Celebration” is celebrated. El día de Reyes (literally, The day of kings) is usually when kids are given their Christmas gifts. The day before (that’s January 5th) there’s a big parade across Barcelona’s main roads and the three kings, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar are welcomed into the city. This all can be quite confusing for outsiders, but it kind of makes sense historically because tradition says that they were the ones giving (metaphorical) gifts to Jesus. But there are more things happening before the parade.
Things to do in Barcelona during the Christmas holiday
Buy a tree:
The city has an established tradition of decorating the streets and setting up street markets with all sorts of Christmas products. Probably the most famous one is the one placed in the Plaça de la Catedral, the square right in front of the Santa Eulàlia Cathedral. That market is one of the few places around the city where you can buy an actual Christmas tree (we are super into plastic, apparently).
Note: If you go full-on Christmas mode and decide to get one, ask around your neighborhood about the place where you can leave it afterward so they can get rid of it in a nice and sustainable way.
The second event that you can’t miss is the Fira de Reis (The King’s Fair, in Catalan). That is a street fair in Gran Via, between the streets of Muntaner and Calabria, where you can buy all sorts of products and presents.
The weather is rather nice in Barcelona for Christmas. Is not an especially rainy season for the city, so you can expect clear skies and an average temperature between 9ºC and 14ºC. That’s the average, though, but it can certainly be colder or warmer depending on the year.
Our advice would be to come here expecting a European winter, and then be happy to take off some clothes if it happens to be warmer.
New Year’s Eve
No matter what the temperature is, New Year’s Eve is going to be big at the beach. What started as an informal gathering next to the sea to welcome the new year, has turned, over the years, into a massive celebration.
The only downside is that pickpocketing is kind of a thing in this kind of events in the city, but as long as you mind your belongings it should be fine.
There are also a few parties around the city, where you can book a ticket in advance, with a ridiculous amount of drinks included in the price. Poble Espanyol usually throws one of the biggest parties for New Year’s Eve.
Wait… he is doing what?
Ok, there is something we need to address. There’s a Catalan tradition that might be a bit too unexpected for you. If you take a closer look at the nativity scenes around the city, you’ll see that one of the figurines seems to be defecating. Well, it’s because it is. The figurine of the Caganer (literally, the crapper) is a typically dressed Catalan peasant, showing a bare backside and… taking a dump (I am making a big effort to explain this without sounding weird, help me out here).
When you’ve assimilated the concept, just google “Tió de Nadal,” because now I can’t tell you about a living piece of wood that also defecates presents when it gets hit. I promise that these are the only two defecating-related traditions in Barcelona, they just happen to develop during the same season. They are both great conversation starters to practice your language skills as you learn Spanish in Barcelona, just make sure you practice your vocabulary first because I don’t think that’s your usual conversation topic.
What is a crazy tradition in your country? Come to join us at Expanish and learn Spanish in Barcelona to see these traditions for yourself.