December - Traditions, festivals, and popular fairs

In an increasingly globalised world, traditions are celebrated very differently in each territory.


December is a month to take stock of what has happened during the year and to evaluate what we want to leave behind and improve what we want to have beforehand. But December also marks the festive days that await us, and which coincide with many popular festivals, events and traditional fairs. Christmas is back and we will reach the end of the year, which will lead us to a new change of date and new desires and projects.


When these dates are so important in our diaries, in which everything is present, abundant meals also arrive in force. Christmas sweets appear on the scene, such as “polvorones” and the traditional “roscón” or, contrary to our habit of eating seafood and fish, banquets of rich and tasty roast meat are imposed. But, above all, these are the days of reunion, emotional and special days in which to share moments and moments of enjoyment with those closest to us.


These dates become a point of reference and, depending on who we are talking to and where we are, we will understand Christmas in one way or another. In every corner of the world, even the smallest, millions of people celebrate these festivities marked by tradition and their religious beliefs which, over time, have filled each country with their own rites, music, preparations, and customs. A very open view of the meaning of these celebrations that allow us, above all, to experience magical moments, full of happiness.


Thanks to the diversity of cultures, different traditions can be enjoyed. Although in each country or region the main ingredients of all these approaching festivities are common and the general feeling of love, fraternity and solidarity predominates, there are some notable differences that make Christmas celebrations unique in each territory. A Christian celebration rather than a festival, Christmas is not a holiday that is celebrated in the same way in all countries of the world, and the differences are to be found in the origin of their religion. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists disagree on how to venerate the prophet who gives rise to these celebrations. Judaism does not celebrate Christmas; its typical festival is Hanuka, or the festival of lights, for eight days in December. Muslims, on the other hand, celebrate two holidays: Eid al-Fitr, the festival immediately following the Ramadan fast, and Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice during the pilgrimage to Mecca, a city that every Muslim must visit at least once in his or her lifetime. Buddhism does not hold major celebrations this month, as its calendar places the new year in February. Buddhist celebrations are mainly based on aspects of religious practice and family harmony, rather than big meals. Finally, Hindus celebrate Diwali, a kind of early Christmas in November. During this festival, one of the main celebrations in the Hindu calendar, the new year begins with a feast in which sweets are given away among family and friends, and where the triumph of the god Ram over the demon Ravana is commemorated.


Prior to the Christmas holidays, there are various fairs and popular events. Some of them are held with the aim of helping both in the decoration and in the preparation of the Christmas festivities. You can find a wide range of cultural, recreational, and decorative objects to set the mood for the festive season.


Throughout the month of December there are different activities, fairs, popular markets and even charity events. From the Fira de la Puríssima in Sant Boi de Llobregat, the Fira de l’Abet in Espinelves, the Mercat Medieval in Vic or the numerous activities and acts of solidarity that want to collaborate and support those most in need. It is also worth mentioning the Fira de Santa Llúcia. The earliest known date of this fair is 1786. It is a very specific date and leaves no room for doubt as to when it was first held. Although it has evolved over the years, nowadays the fair usually starts at the beginning of December and there are numerous stalls which, located in different product and service sectors, offer all the articles needed to decorate homes, establishments, or spaces to decorate for the Christmas holidays. The fair is also accompanied by numerous parallel activities and an exhibition of handcrafted models of nativity scenes.


Another of the most remarkable activities in December are the “Living Nativity Scenes“, which take place all over Catalonia and usually begin on 6 December. There is a calendar of performances that is mainly concentrated on public holidays and weekends.


And you can’t end the year without attending the Festa del Pi. Every 30 December, in Centelles, this festival is held and has been documented since 1751. Linked to the local patron saint, Santa Coloma, it is a celebration that coincides with the winter solstice. This festival was awarded the title of Traditional Festival of National Interest in 1987 and later reclassified as a Heritage Festival of National Interest in 2010.


Although restrictions have returned, many of these events take place in the open air, allowing them to be enjoyed with a “certain degree of normality”.


Finally, the turn of the year fills the cities and capitals of the world with events to celebrate the start of the new year. Once again, restrictions will once again be present and large gatherings will be limited, but there will still be the opportunity to celebrate the new year with family or friends in small groups. In Catalonia it is traditional to do so with a glass of sparkling wine and the twelve grapes that must be eaten to coincide with the twelve chimes that usher in a new year that is expected to bring us the desired recovery.


Under normal conditions of coexistence, Times Square in New York, the Champs Elysées in Paris, Big Ben in London, or Plaza del Sol in Madrid are filled to celebrate the new year. In Barcelona, until the last few years, there had not been such an emblematic place, but since 2013 with the massive celebration next to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic and its entire Maria Cristina Avenue it had become an obligatory point of attendance. This year, these squares will also see changes to their recreational celebrations and will have to adapt to the local and national measures imposed by each region. Therefore, the compulsory measures in force in each place will have to be followed up if there is interest in attending.


Apart from anything else, at the more intimate family level, it is the traditional end-of-year meals and small gatherings that will maintain the traditions of the end of the year. The traditional gastronomy of each home is the protagonist, accompanied by the most artisanal and prestigious wines and cavas that each family decides to bring to share with dinner and lunch at the turn of the year.


Also recommended is the option to enjoy a private tourist experience through the #VipXperience programmes where a variety of exclusive programmes are offered to privately enjoy an exceptional experience during the Christmas holidays.


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