FAIR OF SANTA LLÚCIA, CHRISTMAS FAIRS IN BARCELONA
Until 23rd December 2019. Once again, the Fira de Santa Llúcia will return to redecorate Plaza de la Catedral into a Christmas wonderland! The market dates back to 1786 and is the oldest fair dedicated to all things Christmas. As Barcelona’s oldest Christmas market, it is traditionally filled with locals and tourists spending Christmas in Barcelona wandering around the lively, festive stalls. The celebration has always been very popular, so much so that in 1860, when the epidemic of yellow fever struck Barcelona, the festivities still went ahead. This year, the fair will come to Barcelona on 13 December and finishes on 23 December.
Naturally, because of the cultural significance, it’s the best place to come face to face with other Catalan traditions, like Caga Tió or the Caganer.
Originally, the fair was celebrated in honour of the feast day of Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, (Santa Llúcia) on 13 December. On this day, there were festivities in the Cathedral where the image of Saint Lucy was venerated. Meanwhile, there were stalls with Nativity scenes, clay and cardboard figurines and more outside the Cathedral. Since there are many traditions associating the name Lucy with light, she is considered the patron saint of sight, therefore people attend mass and pray to the saint to preserve their eyesight. She is popularly known as the defender of eyesight.
It is also said that the fair was a place for unmarried women to go, accompanied by their mothers, to try and find a husband. They would attend in their best clothes and jewellery to try to catch the attention of their possible future husbands.
El Tío de Nadal, or Catalonia’s traditional pooping Christmas log, is a log which stands on two or four legs with a painted smiling face, covered in a cloth. However, these are modern additions, as traditionally simply a dead piece of wood would be brought into the house. Every night, children feed the little log and cover it with the cloth to keep it from getting cold. Children are told to take good care of the log, keeping it well fed and warm, so that on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it will poop out presents. Traditionally, children hit the log whilst singing a song to make it poop sweets, nuts and fruit, although this can vary depending on the region.
Every year, the fair normally has around 300 stalls selling a variety of Christmas themed items to suit all ages! Because there are so many stalls, the fair is normally divided into different sections:
Nativity scenes and figures – stalls in this sector mainly offer accessories for Nativity scenes, caves, figures, Christmas lights, baubles, candles and Christmas decorations for homes, crib scenes and Christmas trees.
Greenery and plants – in this sector you will be able to find real and artificial trees, moss, tíos in all shapes and sizes, natural cork, lucky branches of eucalyptus, holly, mistletoe and more.
Arts and crafts – hand-made products and accessories can be found in this sector, such as jewellery, clothes, decorations, gifts, and much more.
Drums and instruments – here you can buy Simbombes, or friction drums in English, as well as tambourines, whistles and other instruments.