BARCELONA CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND TRADITIONS
I used to think Christmas was celebrated the same way all over the world. I thought that everyone hung their stocking and waited for Santa to leave presents under their Christmas tree. Then I went to Barcelona.
This was my first time experiencing Christmas in Europe. I’ve seen countless photos of Christmas markets in Europe and assumed that the ones in Barcelona would be similar.
I knew that each city would have its’ own traditions, decorations and christmasy treats. But nothing could have prepared me for one stark difference of the Barcelona Christmas Markets; Santa Clause is out-shined by Tió de Nadal.
Barcelona Christmas Markets
No better place to celebrate Christmas-time in Europe than at a Christmas market. Barcelona holds several Christmas Markets each year. But don’t expect the typical Christmas Markets filled with delicious treats. To my dismay, there were no stands selling treats. (A girl needs her snacks). Don’t come hungry but do come. The two main Christmas Markets are located in must-see spots in Barcelona so there is no way you should miss them.
Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market
This is the main Christmas Market in Barcelona. Its’ location outside the Barcelona Cathedral is an ideal spot in the city. I walked through this market several times due to its’ central location. As the Gothic Quarter is my favorite neighborhood in Barcelona, I made frequent visits.
Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market has all the Barcelona Christmas basics including gifts, nativity scenes and Tió de Nadal. It seemed like every other stand sold everyone’s favorite little log, Tió de Nadal.
Aside from the wonderful array of artisan gifts and decorations, this Christmas market has a great atmosphere. Christmas music played throughout the market, leaving everyone in good spirits. And the stands were set up in a close clusters, making it easy to maneuver around the market.
The best part of the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market was the stage set up, where children line up to see… Tió de Nadal. I watched as the kids joyously beat the log with a stick, singing merrily. Once they were done, an assistant went under the blanket to retrieve the candy that Tió de Nadal defecated. (I’m not making this stuff up).
Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia
This market located in the gardens outside the Sagrada Familia can not be missed on a Christmas-time visit to Barcelona; mostly because a visit to the Sagrada Familia can not to be on any visit to Barcelona.
Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia allows you to get some Christmas cheer while viewing Gaudí’s masterpiece. This Barcelona Christmas Market has similar products to the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market. Yet this market is all about the nativity scenes. In Catalonia and elsewhere is Spain, they go all out on their nativity scenes. Here you can find figurines, moss and hay to create the extravagant nativity scene of your dreams.
Aside from nativity scenes, there are plenty of other decorations including Christmas Trees, ornaments, Tió de Nadal and even Santa Clause. This Christmas Market is a bit more spaced out than the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market yet has equal charm.
Tió de Nadal
At this point, you’re probably wondering who is Tió de Nadal. Prior to my trip to Barcelona I had never heard of Tió de Nadal and now I can’t imagine life without knowing about this unique Christmas tradition.
Tió de Nadal is Catalan for Christmas Log. Tió de Nada is the Catalan version of Santa Clause and brings presents to the children of Catalonia. Each Tió has a smiley face, red hat and a blanket drapped over it .
Beginning on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, the children feed and take care of their Tió . On Christmas, the Tió is placed into the fire and the children beat the log with a stick in order to make it defecate. They beat a log to make it poop out presents. After thoroughly beating the log, the children are sent to pray for the log to poop out lots of presents for them.
All of the Lights
The Christmas lights in Barcelona are wonderful! Twinkling lights are strung in almost every street in Barcelona. These lights depict yuletide greeting and represent the various neighborhood of the city.
The best place to see the Christmas lights is the Plaza de Catalunya and along the Passeig de Gracia. The lights are neon, bright and beautiful. It is a sight to see. Enjoy some shopping in this bustling shopping district while taking in the Christmas lights.
Head to the Gothic Quarter and the Born neighborhood for some equally bright and beautiful yet less neon decorations. These neighborhoods hold some of my favorite Christmas decorations in the city. The decorations are low-key yet full of Christmas cheer.