- Festivals and Fiestas
The popular festivities of La Merce,
the patron saint of Barcelona, take place on and around September
24th when there are typical dances such as "sardanas",
parades through the streets, important sporting events (e.g.
sailing, regattas, judo, swimming, walking races), religious
celebrations, etc. At the same time of the year there are also
several exhibitions held including some of fashion, gastronomy
and wine. In October a Second-Hand Book Fair is held in the
Passeig de Gracia and there is also a Musical Festival, the
Autumn Fair in El Tinell and several other fairs at the Trade
Exhibition. In November there is All Hallows Day on the 1st
and All Souls Day on the 2nd, and this is the time when typical
cakes, known locally as "panellets" are eaten. Around
Santa Llucias Days (December 13th) the typical crib fair begins
in the vicinity of the Cathedral, and this goes on right up
until Christmas. It is also the start of the opera season at
El Liceu and the time for concerts at the Palace of Music (Palau
de la Musica). These events continue for several months.
Christmas is traditionally celebrated at home with the family
and with the newly-revived custom of "fer cagar el tio" (this
consists of putting an object similar to a tree trunk into
the fire from which presents then come out). Christmas dinner
takes the form of "escudella" and turkey, "torrons" (a
kind of nougat). New year is celebrated in bars, restaurants,
and in the street where people wear fancy dress just like in
the carnivals. As the clock strikes twelve they eat the twelve
grapes in time with each chime.
In January the main celebration is the arrival of the "Three
Kings from the Orient" on the 5th when there is a cavalcade,
and the 6th when both children and adults receive toys and
gifts. The Carnivals, held in February, are becoming more and
more popular again after they were forbidden during the dictatorship,
and St. Valentines Day (February 14th) is also increasing in
its popularity. On March 3rd the popular festivity of Sant
Medir is held in Grácia and there is a cavalcade and
singing choirs. Holy Week begins with the palm fair which is
held on Palm Sunday. It continues with the typical religious
festivities and ends on Easter Monday which is pagan in origin.
The most spectacular festivities are held on April 23rd. These
are the celebrations in honour of Sant Jordi (St. George),
the patron saint of Catalunya. It also coincides with the rose
and book festivals. In may a flower show is held, and on the
11th there is the typical festival of Sant Ponç held
in El Hospital street by the city's herbalists. A book Fair
is held in the Passeig de Gracia in June and during the same
month there is a Trade Exhibition in Montjuic, the Corpus Christi
celebrations with the typical processions of "giants" and "cabezudos",
and the "l´Ou com Balla" (the dancing egg)
which takes place in the fountain in the Cathedral cloister.
The most important celebration during the month of June is
undoubtedly the Eve of Sant Joan (St. John). This is celebrated
both in private houses and in public places, and there is dancing
and the typical "coca", as well as bonfires in some
streets and squares, and fireworks. The Eve of Sant Pere (St.
Peter), on June 28th, brings with it the festivities associated
with the summer solstice.
From the end of June onwards, the Festival of "el Grec" begins.
This consists of a series of theatrical performances as well
as dancing, concerts, and other cultural events. These take
place either at the Greek Theatre in Montjuic, in the open
air, or in certain other places in the city. There are also
many sports tournaments and competitions as well as several
trade fairs at the Exhibition Centre. July 24th marks the Feast
of Sant Jaume (St. James) and is celebrated in much the same
way as the Eves of St. Joan and Sant Pere. Around the Feast
of the Assumption (August 15th), there are popular festivities
held in the district of Gracia.
The last great summer celebration is that of the "Onze
de Setembre" (September 11th). This is a national holiday
in Catalunya and they hold various official and political ceremonies.
However, there are many more celebrations held throughout the
year in the city itself and in its different districts. These
range from religious ceremonies to special lunches and dinners,
processions and performances. The fact that there are so many
traditional festivities held has led many people to say that
Barcelona is one of the most traditionalist cities in Europe
when it comes to celebrations.
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