Christmas time is a good period to spend time with our families and in every family and country there are some typical traditions. In Catalonia we do celebrate Christmas but as every place with our typical food and traditions, I will explain you a Catalan Christmas looks like.
We celebrate Christmas day, the 25th but our most important day is the 26th Sant Esteve, all catalan families gather for sure on that date.
Christmas and Sant Esteve food in Catalonia
In Catalonia the most important day in Christmas time is 26th December, Sant Esteve, is the day when families gather together to share the big meal, the typical food is meat canelloni. Why canneloni?
There is an answer for that, the day before, on 25 th December families have galet soup -galet is a kind pasta that we eat along with chicken broth-, to do that broth you need to fill in the pot with chicken, meat, sausage, veggies etc... We eat the soup on 25th and as a main dish chicken with pine nuts and raisins.
With the remains of 25th December, the broth ingredients -we call it "carn d'olla", literally the pot's meat- and the chicken that was left over, families do these meat cannelloni that we eat on 26th.
The menu looks like this:
25th December: Galet soup + chicken with pine nuts and raisins
26th December: Meat cannelloni - done with carn d'olla and chicken- yummy!! It is actually done with the leftovers from the previous day.
This is the typical menu, but of course there can be different recipes, and each home has its own ways. There are some families that have seafood, stuffed turkey...
In my family we love this Christmassy food so we stick to the typical every year. I think that cooking this kind of food is a family party as well as it is time-consuming and doing it all together makes it easier. So it is the perfect excuse to spent some time together all along preparing the food.
We also have desserts, the typical thing to eat is neules catalan biscuit-, turrons - it is a confection made with sugar , honey and egg whites shaped in a rectangular tablet. The most typical turrons ones are: xixona, de pedra, yema and chocolate.
And to polish these desserts off we drink of course cava - the catalan champagne- is the key to go along all those sweetie pastries.
There is another typical tradition, no food related El Tió:
This tree branch is a Catalan tradition in Christmas time, it is called el tió - in English "Christmas log"-. This log is about 30 cm long, now there are different sizes and faces to choose. His face has always a broad smile and wears a red sock hat -catalan traditional barretina-.
In the beginning of December, one gives the tió food, little by little by having him "eat" every night he will get fatter and shit presents in Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, depending on the house.
The tió gets covered with a blanket and kids start singing the tió song and beating it with sticks to encourage him to defecate. The tradition says that before beating the tió, kids need to leave the room and go pray in another room so the tió defecates lots of presents.
This is the perfect excuse for parents and family members to do the trick and put the presents under the blanket while the kids are away. The tió will not drop big presents, as we do celebrate The Three Wise Man but it can leave candies, nuts, turrons and in some houses also little presents such as earrings, socks etc...
The three wise men
We celebrate the three wise men, the 6th of January is the second biggest day for Christmas in Catalonia. Kids go on the 5th to the three wise men parade -we call it "cabalgata"-, where the three kings go around the neighbourhood with their carriages and their pages that collect the last letters for those that go last minute. All children need to write their letter to the three wise men so they know what you would like as a present. In the parade, sweets are being given, you just need to be careful because more than one left the parade with a bruise in their head since the sweets are being thrown from the carriages the speed might be dangerous.