We can emphasize five important dates during the Christmas holidays in Spain: Christmas Eve, Christmas itself, San Esteban (in Catalonia and some other region), New Year and Magi Feast.
Regardless whether it is believing family or not, each one joins for a supper to commemorate Jesus birth. In Spain Christmas Eve is a working day, so everybody works as a normal day. The only thing that varies is that all companies and shops are closed a little bit earlier that everyone has time to reach their homes for family supper. In the case of practicing Catholics families, after supper they go to church to attend the Midnight Mass that starts at 0:00 pm.
One of the most popular Christmas tradition in Spain is nativity scenes, which represents the birth of Jesus with figures made of clay, wood, porcelain, plastic or other material. You can see it in churches, some shops in the city, on the beach (made of sand) and in other public places like Plaza de Sant Jaume or the courtyard of the City hall of Barcelona.
As for children, the most important tradition for them is Tió de Nadal, a Christmas log covered with a red blanket to keep warm. Since December 8, children feed it every night, and on the Christmas Eve, the youngest in the house is in charge to beat a log with a stick till the small presents come out. It helps children to wait for the Magi Feast which celebrates January 6.
In Barcelona as in the rest of the country Christmas is celebrated on December 25. It is a holiday, therefore all shops are closed and there is not much activity in the city. This day all Spanish people go for a family dinner. Number of meals and its variety in each family are different, but the Christmas cookies shall be on each table. In the evening everybody hangs out with family or friends: going to the cinema, for a drink or just for a walk.
San Esteban – December 26 – is a holiday in Barcelona and throughout Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, but not in the rest of Spain. It is a holiday which originated many centuries ago when after celebrating Christmas with family, people had to return to their workplace located far away from home, thus they had one more day off. This day families meet once again for dinner with cannelloni as the main dish.
There is no doubt that one of the most anticipated celebrations of the year is the Year End Party. In Spain people often spend it with their family or friends. And when the clock is striking midnight, everybody eats twelve grapes. Currently it is said that if you have eaten all the grapes while striking, your good luck will hold during the becoming year. There is another superstition – if you put a ring inside the glass of champagne, you will have a lot of money in the new year.
Although Barcelona did not have such a world-renowned place to celebrate New Year such as Times Square in New York, the Big Ben in London, the Champs-Élysées in Paris or the Plaza del Sol in Madrid, in 2013 this had changed, when the first New Year's Eve was celebrated at the Fountain of Montjuic. The celebration begins at 23:00 and everyone can enjoy a performance on the stage and singing fountains for free. Exactly at 0:00 the clock will strike and the fireworks will begin and last a few minutes. Then some people go home and the other go the bar or nightclub to continue the celebration.
Magi Feast is also one of the most celebrated holidays in Barcelona and the rest of the country. Despite the fact that on January 6 Three Wise Men (Melchior - with a white beard, Gaspar - with red hair and the favourite black wise man of the most children - Balthasar) bring gifts to all members of the family, for the children this special day is the most magical and expected.
And the most interesting part of the holiday takes place in the evening of January 5, when their Majesties after a long journey on camels come from the Far East to Barcelona and other Spanish cities, where they will meet many excited children. In Barcelona, the show begins at 16:30, when the Wise Men arrive on a ship to the Port Vell, where they are welcomed by the mayor of the city. After a short speech, at about 18:00, Three Wise Men begin the cavalcade through the streets of Barcelona greeting all children, and the bright and colourful chariots behind them go with the music and throw about the candies. This procession lasts about three hours and ends at 21:30 at the intersection of avenues Rius i Taulet and Reina Cristina, near the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Then the children go home, prepare some water for camels, some food for Wise Men and go to bed early, because if they do not sleep, their Majesties will not come and will not bring them gifts. For all children the night from 5 to 6 of January is the longest night of the year, as emotions and excitement do not let them fall asleep.
In Barcelona as in the rest of the country the family dinner of Magi Feast ends with the King cake (el Roscón). It is a round cake made of a dough very similar to a biscuit with candied fruits. Inside it has two surprises, one is good and the other is not so good. The good one is a figure, usually one of the Wise Men, and the lucky who has found it in his piece of cake is given the crown of the King that comes with the cake. The "negative" surprise has a shape of bean and if you have it in your piece, you will be obliged to pay for the cake.
The Christmas holidays in Barcelona are celebrated with charm and lots of activities, so everyone can find something interesting. And if you still do not know how to spend these days, come to Barcelona without any doubt. We sure you will like!
Here you have the most interesting activities for these days:
→ The installation of Jesus birth in Plaza Sant Jaume.
From 27/11/2015 to 06/01/2016, visiting hours from 10:00 to 22:00
→ The Race “La Cursa dels Nassos” – 10 km route starting and finishing at the intersection of street Selva de Mar and Plaza de Ramon Calsina.
31/12/2015 at 17:30. Ticket price - 14€
→ Celebrating of New Year at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic.
31/12/2015, from 21:00 to 00:15
→ The cavalcade of Three Wise Men.
05/01/2016, from 18:00 to 21:00. Begins in Marques d'Argentera Av.
→ The concert of Christmas carols Orfeó Català.
04/01/2016, from 19:30 to 20:30 in Plaza del Rey. Free entrance.
→ Three Wise Men Fair on Gran Via, where you can buy holidays gifts.
From 18/12/2015 to 06/01/2016, working hours from 10:00 to 22:00 in Gran Vía (between Rocafort and Muntaner)
→ Factory of the Three Wise Men. You can visit the toys storage where they are kept before their Majesties take them at the night of January 5th.
From 29/12/2015 to 04/01/2016, working hours from 18:00 to 21:00. Factory Fabra i Coats, 18-24 Sant Adrià str.
What is more, the last few years there is a rink BarGelona in the shopping center La Farga in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat located very close to Barcelona.