Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia

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The beaches of Spain’s Costa Brava are an amazing place to spend the summer, but what about spending Christmas in Barcelona? The Christmas traditions in Spain are fascinating throughout the country, but Barcelona holiday traditions are unique and special in their own ways.

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia bon nadal

Christmas in Barcelona

The lights, the tree, and the ornaments — they’re all here. However, Christmas in Barcelona has its own traditions and idiosyncrasies. For example, there are festive Christmas markets in Barcelona. And there are also spectacular nativities and parades. Oh, and did I mention the smiling, pooping wooden log? Below I explain a few of the beautiful and bizarre Spanish holiday traditions you might enjoy when visiting Barcelona at Christmas.

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Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia PIN 2 Many people like to visit southern Spain in the winter, but we think Christmas in Barcelona is a great way to spend the holidays. Read on for info in the Christmas Markets, La Carassa de Nadal, the Nativities. the Caganer, Tió de Nadal (Caga Tio), the Feast of the Three Kings and more. Christmas in Catalonia, Bon Nadal, Christmas markets, Nativities, Tres Reyes, Christmas in Barcelona: Holiday Family Travel in Spain

Christmas Markets in Barcelona

Many people like to visit southern Spain in the winter, but we think Christmas in Barcelona is a great way to spend the holidays. Read on for info in the Christmas Markets, La Carassa de Nadal, the Nativities. the Caganer, Tió de Nadal (Caga Tio), the Feast of the Three Kings and more. Christmas in Catalonia, Bon Nadal, Christmas markets, Nativities, Tres Reyes, Christmas in Barcelona: Holiday Family Travel in Spain. Christmas in Catalonia, Bon Nadal, Christmas in Barcelona: Holiday Family Travel in Spain

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia barcelona christmas markets in barcelona

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel barcelona christmas market 3

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel barcelona shop Christmas markets 4

There are a number of large and festive Christmas markets in Barcelona set up during wintertime. We visited the Fira de Santa Llúcia in Place Nova near the Barcelona Cathedral, but there are many others, most notably near the Sagrada Familia.

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La Carassa de Nadal

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel Carassa

Look for this bizarre creature as he is pushed around the Christmas markets in Barcelona. Like an ice cream truck through a residential neighborhood, La Carassa is preceded by music and stalked by children. His distribution of sweets, however, is somewhat unique: candies are projected from his mouth!

Christmas Nativities in Barcelona

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel nativity

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel live nativity

Our family doesn’t push or practice any specific religion, but I grew up in a loving Christian home and still have fond memories of the nativity scene. I want my kids to know that, as well.

Visit Barcelona over Christmas (or anywhere in Spain during the Christmas season), and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see Christmas nativities in all shapes and sizes — including to-scale ones with live people and animals. You’ll find them in churches (naturally), but also shopping centers, public squares, and Christmas markets in Barcelona.

No matter your religious preferences, seeing a group of living creatures posing for hours makes an impression.

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The Caganer: Scatological Christmas Traditions in Spain

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia Caganer 1

Ok, this may not be for everyone, but our family finds quite a bit of entertainment in bodily functions. Apparently, so do the people of Barcelona and the Catalan people in general.

Walk around the Chrismas Markets in Barcelona and elsewhere and you’ll start to see a particular figure of a man in traditional clothes. He is squatting and…well…relieving himself. On the ground. It’s fairly explicit. The caganer images you see here are mostly from the front, but I can assure you that the view from the other side hides nothing.

Christmas Traditions in Spain: The Squatter Statues

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel barcelona caganer 2

The act of defecation may seem repulsive to some, but this basic function of life is both necessary and, well, kind of funny. We’ve spent enough time in countries like Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam to be familiar with the pose. Visit Barcelona at Christmas, and you’ll see figures like this everywhere.

Here in Catalonia, this particular image is a sign of good luck. It even shows up in nativity scenes as well! Explore Christmas traditions in Spain and the entire Catalan region and you’ll find it all over.

And it’s not just this guy in traditional clothes. Visit Barcelona at Christmas and you’ll be able to purchase caganers of just about any public figure in the act of pooping on the ground. I’m not kidding. This is a Catalan Christmas tradition.

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Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia christmas markets el caganer

Stalls all over town sell the likenesses of politicians, celebrities, and sports stars — all in the squat position. For example, I’m talking people like Pablo Picasso, Freddie Mercury, the Dalai Llama, Batman, Donald Trump and C3Po (I’m not exactly sure how that last one would work).

See for yourself in the image above. How many do you recognize?

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Tió de Nadal (Caga Tio)

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia caga tio

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia: Spain Family Travel barcelona caga tio shop

This is another sweet (but also scatological) Christmas tradition in Spain: Tió de Nadal, also known as “Caga Tio.” Walk around the Christmas markets in Barcelona and you’ll see logs of wood for sale. These logs have been given a smiley face and red hat. Caga Tio sits in the home from December 8th, and every night the kids “feed” him turron, a traditional Spanish holiday sweet made from almonds.

On Christmas Eve, the kids sing a traditional song to the log, as per Catalan tradition. Afterward, the log “poops” out treats that have been hiding underneath the blanket that has been placed over it to ostensibly keep him warm. The blanket is pulled up to reveal the kind of candies and small toys that you might find in a North American Christmas stocking. Christmas traditions in America and elsewhere? We put presents under a tree. Christmas traditions in Spain? Part of a tree poops out presents. To each his own, am I right?

Feast of the Three Kings

Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia feast of the three kings parade

So you want to experience Christmas in Barcelona, but would prefer to spend December 25th at home? You’re in luck. Christmas traditions in Spain stretch into January, and the actual gift-giving time is January 5th and 6th.

On the evening of January 5th, there are large parades in Spanish cities to welcome the three kings. What kings? These are the three wise men from the traditional Christmas story. I grew up remembering them for bringing the baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As per Christmas traditions in Spain, the wise men also serve as Santa Claus.

The parades are a lot of fun, too. Your kids can expect to catch at least a few pieces of candy. Don’t forget to bring a bag to carry all the candy you’ll catch. In fact, in Valencia, we saw some clever kids using an upside-down umbrella to catch more candy as it fell.

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Barcelona in December – Christmas Weather in Barcelona

Christmas weather in Barcelona in December is pretty good. Expect highs around 14ºC/60ºF and lows around 5ºC/41ºF. Most days are sunny, with little precipitation throughout the month. It’s often ideal walking weather. If you come for Christmas in Barcelona or to experience any Christmas traditions in Spain, bring warm clothes because it gets cold after dark. That said, Christmas weather in Barcelona in December is often quite sunny in the afternoons.

Have You Spent Christmas in Barcelona?

What did you do? Where did you stay? Did you experience any of these Christmas traditions in Spain? Or do you have any to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or feel free to contact me directly.

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Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia PIN 1 - Many people like to visit southern Spain in the winter, but we think Christmas in Barcelona is a great way to spend the holidays. Read on for info in the Christmas Markets, La Carassa de Nadal, the Nativities. the Caganer, Tió de Nadal (Caga Tio), the Feast of the Three Kings and more. Christmas in Catalonia, Bon Nadal, Christmas markets, Nativities, Tres Reyes, Christmas in Barcelona: Holiday Family Travel in Spain
Image credits: #1, #7, #8#9, #15

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a room for visiting Barcelona during Christmas using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you enjoy Christmas in Barcelona, and winter in Catalonia.

Comments

  1. Barcelona is so amazing for the Christmas holidays! I wasn’t there this time because I was at home in Alicante yet I have spent Christmas in Barcelona before and it’s such fun!

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