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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.
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. It is a day to be out and about wandering the streets of the region's towns and cities.
The Patum de Berga is a truly ancient traditional festival. It is cultural phenomenon that grew out of the theatrical performances that used to accompany the Corpus Christi processions in the Middle Ages. The event is focused on fire, music and a series of symbolic characters. These days, the Patum is as vibrant as ever; to the point it has been declared an event of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. A small square in Berga, not far from Barcelona, concentrates all of the the energy, passion and magic of an unmissable festival.
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. With all the effective social-distancing and safety measures in place, you'll be able to visit the people's Nativity at the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes and the one at the Museu Marés. Don't miss them!
The origins of the Fiestas of Santa Eulàlia are rooted in the legend of Barcelona's second patron saint and are a focal point for the city's main winter celebrations. The festivity take place the 12th February over a weekend full of activities rooted in popular culture and traditions, with a children's audience very much in mind: giants, the correfoc (groups of 'demons' letting off fireworks in the streets), human tower builders and also folkloric dance groups, the 'colles bastoneres'.
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).
On occasion of the Santa Eulàlia festivity, the Barcelona Cathedral is organizing a guided tour of different areas inside and outside the church to see different images of the Saint and explain the iconographic significance in society as a whole.
There are two official languages in Catalonia: Catalan and Spanish, and there are more and more people in the region who understand and speak English. You’re sure to get by.
As a large metropolis, Barcelona receives the very best of the products that are cultivated, fished, reared, hunted or collected in Catalonia.
Tarragona city, the capital of the Costa Daurada, is a city that grew out of the sea. 92 km south of Barcelona, showcases a roman legacy which has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco
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