In Catalonia, we have several traditions that define who we are. Each tends to result in an event or party both on a small scale, among friends and family, and on a large scale including a whole city.
Intrigued? Well you may just be able to experience it firsthand! Here is a list of some of the traditions you can participate in during your stay:
1.Calçots: These are scallions that are typically chargrilled and paired with a romesco sauce. Most people wear bibs to prevent any messes from occurring although the brave ones go without it! The way to eat it is to peel away the charred part to get to the heart of the scallion. You dip the scallion in the sauce and enjoy!
2. Castellers: This tradition seems quite unusual to onlookers as it is a literal tower made out of humans. It starts off with people at the bottom, huddling together to create a base, with others slowly climbing to the top to create the height of the tower. Young children then climb to the top to finish it off! Their motto is ‘força, equilibri, valor i seny’, which translates into ‘strength, balance, value & wisdom’ (although seny is way more complex than wisdom).
3. Pa amb tomàquet: This traditional dish consists of bread, olive oil, tomato, and salt. It seems quite simple, but it is truly delicious! The tomato is rubbed onto the bread with the olive oil and the salt so that it can soak up all of its flavor.
Pa amb tomàquet
4. Fideuà: This sea food dish is very similar to the famous paella but instead of rice, this dish uses short, thin pasta noodles. The rest of the dish is pretty similar to the various kinds of paella. For example, Fideuà with mariscos is just paella with seafood but with noodles!
5. Crema catalana: The dessert is also known as burnt cream in English and is very similar to the French dessert crème brulee. This dish is made out of egg yolk, milk, flour, sugar with hints of lemon, orange, or cinnamon! The dish is usually served in clay pots so that it can be burned in the over or using a blowtorch.
6. Caga tió: This is the tradition of the Christmas log! During Christmas time, families will have a log of about 30 cm long in their house. The log has a face painted at the end and rests on its legs. The children are supposed to care for the log by providing it with warmth either through a blanket or keeping it by the fire and giving the log food every day. On Christmas day, legend has it that the log will defecate the presents for the family if they took good care of the log.
7. Gegants i capgrossos: These giants are papier-mâché structures that are used during major parades. These giants can be up 7 meters high! They typically where traditional clothing that matches the festival or holiday that is being celebrated.
Gegants i capgrossos
8. Sardana: This tradition is a type of dance that consists of people holding hands and keeping their hands raised as they dance in small, precise steps. The circle gets bigger and bigger as other people join the circle. This dance symbolizes their pride and unity as Catalans. Everyone from all ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, etc. are invited to join!
9. Festa Major: This celebration is held in every town and village within Spain. The day of the festival depends on the date set up by the local council that plans each celebration. The party lasts several days and is always dedicated to a patron saint or local parish.
Whether through food, events or holidays, Catalunya is a place filled with opportunities for immersing yourself in the culture, so make sure you take advantage of that! While in Spain, remember to look up the season’s events and do not shy away, we love to share our culture with anyone willing to learn.