Funniest traditions in Catalonia (and Spain)
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Catalonia (and Spain) has a few funny and different traditions. For example that Christmas and poop goes hand in hand in Catalonia! Here are the funniest:
Let’s start with the Christmas traditions. Here in Catalonia, they are weirdly fond of poop. Like, actual human poop. When I first heard of Caga Tió, I thought it was a mistake. This couldn’t possibly be a real tradition – but it is! Caga Tió means, roughly translated, “Uncle Shit”. So, Caga Tió is a tree log with a Catalan Christmas hat (barretina) on it and a painted face. Caga Tió is a substitution to Santa Claus, which they don’t really have in Catalonia.
Throughout December, Caga Tió is placed in the living room, covered partly with a blanket so he doesn’t get cold and the family put food for him every night. On Christmas morning (the parents snug presents under the blanket the night before), the kids hit Caga Tió with a stick and sings a song. This is done to get Caga Tió to shit presents out! Haha, I find this tradition very funny and I adore it. Here’s one of the songs, with translation:
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
hazelnuts and mató cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
Caga Tiós sold at Christmas
Let’s continue in the Christmas spirit – with some more shit. Literally. El Caganer literally means “The Shitter”. This charming little figurine is a decoration at Christmas here in Catalonia, and can be bought everywhere. If you should wish to buy your own, Caganer is the most famous Caganer shop in the world – and the best. You can even get one of the famous person you hate the most – Donald Trump maybe?
Anyway. El Caganer displays a figurine that shits. You read that right. It’s a small figurine that’s squatting with its pants down and does a number two. The most traditional one is a peasant wearing the national outfit of Catalonia: white shirt, black pants, red scarf around the stomach and the red hat (barretina). Would you like one of these decorating traditions your house at Christmas?
The traditional Caganer
This is exactly as it sounds – when it’s your birthday people get to pull your ears. The ear pulls are correspondent to how old you’re getting. So if you turn 50, you better prepare for sore ears – it hurts.
This is without a doubt one of the most scary traditions! Correfoc literally means “Fire-run”. And it’s exactly as it sounds – they run with fire! People dress up as devils and put fireworks on the pitchforks. They dance to the beat of a drum beneath the flames and sparks, while they run down the street, shooting fire at everything and everyone. Completely terrifying to witness. At least if you’re like me and are sure that your hair’s gonna catch on fire.
The biggest Correfoc of the year is on the last night of La Mercè, which is a huge street festival in Barcelona. It takes place every year in the last weekend of September, to mark the end of summer. It’s a MUST SEE if you’re gonna go around there anyway! Everyone in Barcelona is looking forward to this amazing festival all year!
I spent my first Correfoc standing in a flower pot, screaming, and covering my hair, because I was so afraid. I had ended up in the epicentre of the fire throwing, and I thought I was gonna die. It wasn’t as scary as it sounds and when I look back at it now, it was a fun experience! And I look forward to the next time – but I’ll keep my distance.
Dancing under the flames at Correfoc at Fiesta de la Mercè
I wouldn’t call Castellers scary, but it might not be for the faint of heart. Castellers is human towers. It’s one of the most important traditions in Catalonia and definitely one of my favorites. They stack humans on top of each other and compete of who can build the tallest tower. Sometimes they can be up to 10 people high! The biggest ones I’ve seen has been to La Mercè – can you see why you have to visit during this time?
Castellers at Fiesta de la Mercè
12 grapes at New Years
One of my favorite traditions – simply because it’s really fun! Their (many) New Year’s traditions includes: wearing red underwear, put something gold in your champagne glass – and eat 12 grapes at midnight. All for good luck (so I better have a lot of luck this year). The 12 grapes has to be eaten at each bell chime, and is almost like a sport in Spain. They care so much about the grapes, they have a grape countdown on tv! So basically, you have to try to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds without choking. It’s such a fun traditions, I want to bring it to Denmark!
The funniest thing about this tradition is almost how it became a tradition. In 1895, the Spanish farmers grew too many grapes and had to somehow get rid of them. So they started telling people that it would bring them luck, to eat 12 grapes at midnight. So they sold their big harvest and started a new tradition at the same time! Haha, I think that’s one of the best reasons for a tradition I’ve ever heard!
The Catalan version of Valentine’s Day. They also celebrate Valentine’s Day, but not nearly as much as Sant Jordi! I will actually have to say I prefer Sant Jordi. It’s tradition that the women are given roses and the men are given books. Now a days in the modern times, women can be given books too. I think it’s nice that the men get something too for once! The story goes that knight Sant Jordi slayed a dragon and gave the princess a rose on this day, where she then gave him her book in return. This day falls on the 23rd of April every year and if you’re visiting Catalonia during this time, you’re in for a treat. The streets are filled with stands, that all sells roses and books, and people are in a fantastic mood! I think it’s the only time of the year where you will actually see Catalans at Las Ramblas!
Books and roses in the street at Sant Jordi
Bonus info: Fiesta de La Mercè
I’ve mentioned this fantastic festival a few times in this post. So I think it’s only appropriate to give you some information about Barcelona’s biggest party of the year. It’s actually Europe’s biggest street party! It takes place in the last weekend September every year and is a culmination to the smaller Festa Majors, that are spread over the city during the summer.
I’ll write a more thorough post about all the street parties soon, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!
Thinking about combining your trip to Barcelona with one of these funny traditions? Make sure to be fully prepared and check out what to do in Barcelona!
Disclaimer: I do not own all of the photos in this blog post. All credit goes to the respective photographers.