Local traditions and culture in Catalunya

  • Local Customs
    by plavajabuka
  • Les Quatre Barres in the streets.
    Les Quatre Barres in the streets.
    by Jerelis
  • Paulien is enjoying her stay at L'Escala.
    Paulien is enjoying her stay at...
    by Jerelis

Most Viewed Local Customs in Catalunya

  • Eternal Love

    by plavajabuka Updated Jun 26, 2014

    San Jordi( April 23rd- The Day of the Book ) is the most romantic day of the year in Barcelona when lovers exchange a rose and a book. The rose tradition comes from the old legend of Saint George saving a princess from a dragon. A rose is a symbol of love and book of eternity. The tradition to exchange a book comes from a celebration of the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

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    Jota

    by Peret Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In the south of Catalonia, although is also sardana as traditional dance, the tipycal dance is the jota. This is a dance that in diferents ways, they dance in all north of Spain. In this photo, when in Asc? is celebrating festivity of Sant Antoni, people dance this jota around a bonfire in the Church Square. Authentic tradition, who lead us to the most primitive sense of comunity.

    Jota d'Asc��

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    Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George day)

    by crazyguitar Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government) on 17th April of 1456 declared 23rd April as a Holiday, and 2 centuries later (1667) the Pope Climent IX approved it officially.
    Nowadays there is a nice custom consisting in: men give a rose to women and women give a book to men.
    On that day streets are plenty of stalls selling roses and books, what a lovely day!!!
    In 1995 UNESCO chose 23rd April as a World Book Day inspired from this Catalan tradition.

    Sant Jordi: The patron saint of Catalonia

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    The Catalan donkey

    by Elisabcn Updated Sep 5, 2009

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    This breed of donkey derives from the Equus asinus somaltensis or the Somalia donkey. This type later gave rise to the donkeys of the south west Asia and probably also the majority of European breeds, including the Catalan one.
    They are large animals, with an average height of 140cms and weight varying from 350kg to 450kg. The characteristic color of the coat is chestnut-black. The muzzle, the area around the eyes, the belly and the insides of the legs are typical pale silvery color.
    The principal donkey areas were in the regions of the Pirineus and the foothills of the mountains, and the areas around the basins of the rivers Segre and Ter. Nowadays these breed is in danger of extinction and the number of animals existing is not much over 100 examples. Most of them are in the Catalan Pirineus and few examples are in the south of France.
    In 1978 and due to the serious situation which the breed was facing, the Association for the Encouragement of the Catalan Donkey Breed (AFRAC) was formed in Banyoles to protect, encourage and improve this population.
    Catalans decided to adopt the Catalan donkey as a claiming symbol of the Catalan nationalism, in opposition of the Osborne’s black bull and you can find it everywhere on sticks, t-shirts or Catalan flags. You can also link Catalan donkey- Catalans themselves as another breed in danger of extinction :-))))))

    Catalan donkey

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    Sant Jordi's Day

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    Saint Jordi’s Day, on 23rd April, is for me the most beautiful day in Catalunya. During this day we commemorate the legend of Saint George, the Saint patron of Catalunya.

    This is the story: there was a very very bad dragon that destroyed all the cultivations and houses of the village. An agreement was done between the king and this dragon: every year the king will give to the dragon a maiden in order to let them in peace. This girl was chosen by lot. One year the princess was the chosen and she was taken to the dragon's cave. But Saint George arrived, killed the dragon and the dragon’s blood drops turned into roses. Sant Jordi took one rose and offered it to the princess.

    Sooo during this day the tradition is that men always offer a single red rose to mums, lovers or just friends. This day we are like princess :-)
    On 23rd April we also commemorate the book’s day since April 23, 1616 was also the date of death of both the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar) and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (according to the Gregorian calendar). Now it’s ladies’ turn, who offer a book to their loved ones or just friends. Catalunya has exported this tradition of the book to the rest of the world. In 1995, the UNESCO adopted April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.
    It is very impressive to see all the streets full of rose stalls, book stalls, Catalan flags and all the women walking with their rose. It is also a claiming day for Catalunya, its language and traditions.

    23rd April is a very beautiful day in Catalunya!

    this year no rose, buuuuu :-(((

    roses for Sant Jordi (public domain)

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    El porró!!!!

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    The porró is a typical Catalan recipient made of glass used to drink wine but sometimes you can also see it filled with beer. The big hole is used to fill the porró with your favorite drink. The small one is used to drink. This is one of the few things sold in Les Rambles (and in other gift shops) that is really typical from Catalunya.
    Drinking from a porró is not easy and you need some practice. On the following pictures I try to explain you the technique and show you how to drink from a porró (pictures 1 and 2), the classical style, and how not to drink (picture 3) (my friends will kill me if they see these pictures on line but I will see this later . . .). You start drinking like on the first picture and then slowly and without loosing the balance you strech your arm until it is straight. There is a universal law (with some funny exceptions) about porrons: the more you drink, the more your style falls down . . . so if you are a beginner (or you have drunk a lot) consider using a napkin when drinking from a porró; Catalan people should never use a napkin (what a shame!).
    After this graphic lesson try to do your best but please, don’t suck the small hole!!!

    in mission!! even if he is Mexican he has a good style please, don't drink like this :-))))

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    La Sardana

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    La sardana és la dansa més bella
    de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan;
    és la mòbil magnífica anella
    que amb pausa i amb mida va lenta oscil.lant.

    "The sardana is the most beautiful dance of all those dances that are done and undone ; it is the mobile and magnificent ring that with pause and measure slowly swings."

    These first words of Joan Maragall’s poem describe perfectly the spirit of the sardana. Well, maybe la sardana is not the most beautiful dance in the world but I like it because it is a dance of group where anybody (in principle) can participate.
    You usually can see sardanes in all the main squares of a village or a town on Sundays. Sardana’s songs are always played by “la cobla”, a small group of musicians that play some traditional wind instruments. When I hear the first notes of a “flabiol” (a small flute with a very particular sound) I know that a sardana is going to start and . . . that I am in Catalunya. I am basically a sardana watcher, but I know the basic steps (curts i llargs) and from time to time, if I there is an amateur (easy going) group, I enjoy joining them to dance me too :-).
    If you are in Barcelona, you can see sardanes at the Cathedral Square.

    la sardana (public domain)

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    La Barretina!

    by Elisabcn Updated Apr 17, 2009

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    La barretina is the traditional Catalan hat for men. Usually red (but sometimes also violet) and made of wool, it was very used specially in rural areas until the XIX th century. Nowadays you still can see it in local traditions like in sardanas. I have put here some pictures of some people still wearing the barretina ;-)

    Catalan man (Joan Miro') Pablo Picasso Salvador Dali'

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    Castells!

    by Elisabcn Written Apr 16, 2009

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    Castells (or human towers) are typical constructions of the province of Tarragona but you can see them everywhere in Catalunya. The castells' world is very complex: there are different kinds of castles and every castle has its own name. The castles can reach 10 floors but the most usual castles have between 7 and 8 floors.
    The main parts of any kind of castle are:
    -"pinya" all the people on the ground floor that help to build the castle
    -"tronc" the different floors of the castle
    -"enxaneta" is the kid on the top of the castle;

    You can consider that a castle is "carregat" or finished when the "enxaneta" arrives at the top and he/she raises the hand
    In Tarragona's area there is a big rivalry between the "colles" or groups castellers, specially if they are from the same city; The rivalry is bigger if they are building castles in their local town festivities: they try to do the best and more complicated castles to impress the public

    castell carregat: well done!

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    Guests Present For Hosts

    by COMEONDOWN Written Jun 17, 2008

    We see your from UK, well, Spaniards have sweet tooth, a box of chocolate will be welcomed and enjoyed! The guests soaps which go on super sale are well accepted and yet they are quite affordable! When it's intended for gifts, it's the easiest thing to pick up from the stores, unless your giving a royal family, that is when it can be a problem...Have fun and enjoy the Catalan living which is great! We are proud to be part of the culture!

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    More Besalu

    by into-thin-air Written Jul 23, 2007

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    We parked our car in a car park to the south east of the town, there was no charge and from there you can see the bridge into Besalu. There is also a tourist information office there – You might also find that useful !!

    The Historic centre of Besalu Looking into Besalu from the fortified bridge Walking into Besalu from the fortified bridge Old streets in the centre of Besalu Lady playing Barrel Organ on the bridge at Besalu
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    Besalu

    by into-thin-air Written Jul 23, 2007

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    After leaving Ribes de Freser, we were heading south-east towards Gerona and we drove past the town of Besalu, it looked so magnificent that we simply Had to stop, The fortified bridge leading into the town is one of the most spectacular that I have ever seen !!
    Unfortunately we only had time for a whistle-stop look around the town, One day I would Love to return to see more !!

    Looking up at the magnificent fortified bridge The magnificent fortified bridge at Besalu Crossing the magnificent fortified bridge Looking up at the magnificent fortified bridge Crossing the magnificent fortified bridge
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    Build up to a Festival in Ribes de Freser 2

    by into-thin-air Written Jul 23, 2007

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    As the morning wore on more and more Mannequins arrived, It looked as thought it was going to be an excellent Fiesta, Gemma from The Hotel Prats told me that The business’s in the town put out food and wine for all those taking part in the parade – it really sounded like a Great Day

    More Mannequins arriving Even More Mannequins arriving Mannequins in place on the main street Mannequins in place on the main street Yet More Mannequins arriving
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    Build up to a Festival in Ribes de Freser

    by into-thin-air Written Jul 23, 2007

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    When we were in Ribes de Freser there was a festival, People from all the surrounding towns and villages came along with Huge Models of People, theses were on a frame and someone walked with the “Mannequin” on top of them. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the parade proper as the road was going to be closed off and we had a long way to drive, Never-the-less it was an enjoyable experience watching the build up !!

    More Mannequins in place on the main street The Mannequins being decorated The Mannequins being decorated More Mannequins arriving Mannequins in place on the main street
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    The town of Ribes de Freser

    by into-thin-air Written Jul 23, 2007

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    Not exactly a local custom tip, but I wasn’t; exactly sure where to put this one !!
    The town of Ribes de Freser, I think that this is well worth a visit, It’s a delightful little town in the foothills of the Pyrenees, It has all the facilities you will need and makes a great base for either walking or skiing holidays depending on the season – Give it a try !!

    Ribes de Freser town centre Ayuntamiento in Ribes de Freser The large Church at Ribes de Freser The large Church at Ribes de Freser Looking down the river at Ribes de Freser
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