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La Castanyada is a traditional festival that is deeply rooted in Catalonia and celebrated on 1st November, All Saint's Day. People eat chestnuts – castanyes in Catalan –, panellets - small balls of almond paste coated in pine nuts –, sweet potatoes and other autumnal produce. You can make panellets at home or buy them in the pastry shops and bakeries of Barcelona.
This public holiday is celebrated with family, friends and even in schools. It is often accompanied by chestnuts and panellets (traditional marzipan cookies) served with sweet dessert wine. Around the time of this celebration, specialist vendors take to the streets to sell their hot freshly-roasted chestnuts.
The Castanyada (Chestnut Festival) and All Saints Day indicate that summer is over and that colder weather is on the way.
The Santa Eulàlia Festival, the winter festival of Barcelona, is for all the family. During these magical days, tribute is paid to the brave Laia, the girl who rebelled to defend her aims. For the city of Barcelona, this girl was a symbol of solidarity, in defence of justice and commitment to young people. Santa Eulàlia and la Mare de Déu de la Mercè are co-patron saints of Barcelona. To celebrate this festival, different activities are organized for all the family. You can’t miss the giants, the processions or the firework street run, human towers, sardanas dancing and musical bands throughout different routes of the city, apart from other activities for both young and old.
On 12th February, the Santa Eulàlia feast day, several events are held, such as raising the Penó de Santa Eulàlia (reproduction of an old banner of the city) on the balcony of City Hall, sardanas dancing, giants...
During the weekend of 12th and 13th February, there is an extensive programme for both young and old to commemorate this festival.
A large area, totally free of traffic, with different places to explore, most of them in the open air. That's the Poble Espanyol de Barcelona, an iconic visitor attraction in the heart of Montjuïc. Every weekend, there's a different activity: theatre, dance, music, magic, treasure hunts, etc. Throughout the year there are loads of activities to ensure you have a great day out with the family: Carnival, a Giants' Parade, a Puppet Festival, the Click and Go Fair, the Main Festival, the Medieval Fair, Christmas at the Poble, Halloween... and many more surprises!. In short, a wide range of activities for all the family.
Of all the memorable Catalan traditions, which include 'fire runs' and dancing 'giants', it's arguably the human towers that have the most impact on those watching them. To enjoy a true festival of these castells, head to Vilafranca de Penedès for its annual festa major, from the 29th August to the 2nd September, which commemorates the town's patron Sant Fèlix.
The casteller groups that have more participated in the San Félix Day, August 30, have been els Xiquets de Valls (currently, the Colla Vella and the Colla Joves), the Castellers de Vilafranca and the Minyons de Terrassa. Even so, also has participated els Nens del Vendrell, Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, els Xicots de Vilafranca, among others. Each human tower is an exemplary example of team work, from the crowd forming the supporting pinya at the bottom via the columns formed as each level rises and culminating with the youngest members of the crew scampering right to the very top to crown the construction, which is officially completed once the smallest of all (l'enxaneta) raises his or her hand. Cue thunderous applause.
Carnival, a festivity based on the lunar calendar and eagerly anticipated by Catalans, always begins on a Thursday (Fat Thursday) and ends on the following Wednesday (Ash Wednesday). Carnival is synonymous with partying, bustling crowds, costumes, parades and so on. In short, it is a week given over to hedonism and having a good time being the forerunner to the period of fasting and deprivation represented by the Christian tradition of Lent.
These days, beyond the excesses, Carnival is a light-hearted popular festival based around the crazy figure named El Rei Carnestoltes (The Carnival King). While carnival is celebrated in almost every town and village throughout Catalonia, the places that historically stand out for their particular traditions are Barcelona, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Torelló. However, wherever you may be during the festivities, you will be able to try some of the delicious traditional Carnival dishes: the coca de llardons (flatbread with pancetta) or botifarra d'ou (pork sausage containing egg).
This is one of the most keenly anticipated and widely celebrated Catalan public holidays. According to the traditional tale, Sant Jordi (Saint George) killed the dragon that used to live in Montblanc where it terrorized the local population, thus saving the king's daughter from certain death. Legend has it that a beautiful rose bush sprang up in the spot where the dragon's blood was spilled. From the 18th century onward, the Sant Jordi festival became widely identified as a Catalan 'fiesta' which these days arouses great popular, civic and cultural passion. On Sant Jordi's Day, lovers exchange a rose and a book and every town and city in Catalonia is filled with stalls set up to sell both. The center of Barcelona becomes just one big open-air bookshop where you can find everything from the latest publications to renowned writers signing copies of their work.
Enjoy Catalan festival in the different neighborhoods and streets of the city!
This curious tradition is one hundred percent from Barcelona and it takes place on the day of Corpus. As its name suggests, it consists of making an egg "dance" upon the source of the fountains found in cloisters, courtyards or gardens. To ensure that the egg doesn't fall, the "trick" is to put the whole shell of an empty egg. The fountains are decorated with flowers and fruits. The Day of the Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday that is dedicated to the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist.
In Barcelona there are several places in which to enjoy the tradition of "L'Ou com balla". Some venues include the Cathedral of Barcelona, Frederic Marès Museum(plaça Sant Iu), Maritime Museum, la Casa de l'Ardiaca (Santa Llúcia, 1), l'Ateneu Barcelonès (Canuda, 6), la parròquia de la Puríssima Concepció (Aragó, 299) or Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes
The areas of the Pre-Pyrenees and the Pyrenees hold a festival of fire in summer which has been declared as intangible UNESCO cultural Heritage. It involves local people descending with large burning torches (fallas) from the top of the mountain to the village at nightfall. A tradition with rural origins, this ritual is associated with the purification of the fields and woods in order to protect them from evil spirits. This festival has become a magic and light-filled event with mystical connotations featuring a primal light procession. The handmade torches are prepared by people in the village and some can weigh as much as 20 kilograms. Two towns in the area also celebrate this festival on Christmas Eve: Bagà and Sant Julià de Cerdanyola, and on this occasion the tradition is called "Fia-Faia".
The traditional custom of the Nativity scene, featuring the figures present at the birth of Christ, is one of the main Christmas decorations in Catalan homes. You can also see Nativity scenes inside public buildings and even in the city's streets and squares. The most famous one is in the Plaça Sant Jaume, but there are many others such as the people's Nativity at the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes and the one at the Barcelona Cathedral. Don't miss them!
Closely related to Carnival, the Tres Tombs feast is held –at least since 1826– in Sant Antoni neighbourhood, the heart of Eixample district.
In homage to muleteers, wagoners and peasant farmers, the horse parade is performed by ancient carriages animal drawn and several riders. It always appears the Unitat Muntada de la Guàrdia Urbana (Horse Guards of the local police) and riders who escort Sant Antoni and Santa Eulàlia flags, the co-patron saint of the city. But, overall, there are amazing carriages such as a firefighter truck driven by horses, the Imperial carriage of the funeral services, a delivery carriage for wineskins, one for the rice growers and some other historical ones from Barcelona and other Catalan cities.
The parade finishes in Plaça Sant Jaume, when the local authorities welcome the entourage.
16th January: Tres Tombs de Sant Andreu del Palomar.
22nd January: Tres Tombs de Sant Antoni.
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