The Fair of Santa Llúcia in Barcelona
One more year, and despite the exceptional situation we are experiencing, the Fair of Santa Llúcia has been organized on Avenida de la Catedral in Barcelona (in front of the gothic Cathedral).
It consists of a Christmas market where you can find everything you need to decorate your home at this time; fir trees, various ornaments, balls, garlands, mistletoe bushes, as well as the friendly Tió and all the figurines and accessories necessary for the Christmas crib.
For a few years you can also find craft stalls such as jewelry, ceramics, textiles, etc. perfect to buy a detail to give as a gift.
Visiting the fair has become for many families an inescapable tradition, passed down from generations.
In many neighborhoods, as in many other towns, Christmas markets of this style are organized in the weeks leading up to Christmas. But what makes the Fair of Santa Llúcia in Barcelona unique is its long historical journey.
More than 200 years of history
The first edition of this fair that is known took place in 1786, in the 18th century, and we find it documented in various written sources of the time. So it is the oldest fair on the world of nativity scenes and Christmas traditions.
Over the years the market has grown in number and variety of fairgrounds, and if we look at old photographs we see how the stalls are a bit more sophisticated compared to the old stalls, simple shelves with a wooden board and a tent.
The day of Santa Llúcia is December 13, a date on which traditionally the surroundings of the Cathedral of Barcelona were very crowded as people went to venerate the image of the Saint, protector of sight. This image is found in the Santa Llúcia Chapel, a small Romanesque chapel located on Calle de Santa Llúcia, attached to the Cathedral. It is in this context that the fair grew and gained importance.
Two of the most curious and emblematic elements that we can find in the market, are the caganer and the Tió.
The caganer is a typical figure in the Catalan Christmas image that usually represents a crouching man performing his physiological needs in the open air, and that cannot be missing in the Christmas crib. The latter is the graphic representation of the birth of Jesus that was initially made publicly with monumental statues and that was introduced on a small scale in the dining rooms of the houses.
Currently we can find caganer models that represent well-known characters, from soccer players to politicians and actors.
The caganer is not the only typically Catalan character who defecates, as we also have Tió, a log with a drawn face and ‘barretina’ (typical Catalan hat) and placed at home under the Christmas tree. We must feed it until Christmas Eve, when children beat him with a stick and sing songs to make him ‘shit’ presents.
There are many stories and legends about the origin of the Tió. Surely this origin we have to look for in a rural environment, at the time of the winter solstice and in the rituals of abundance, protection and rebirth of nature after the winter season.
Adaptation to current sanitary measures
This year, the 234th edition, the necessary security protocols are followed and the points of sale have been reduced to have more space. Capacity control is carried out and the entrances and exits are signposted. The organization recommends scheduling the visit during the week and avoiding peak hours on weekends and holidays.
The market is also accompanied by a program of activities and shows related to Christmas, which are also followed by the appropriate measures. This information can be consulted on the Fair of Santa Llúcia website.
It can be visited until December 23.