In 2010, it was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is a ritual act, symbolising homage to the people. It is always free of charge and anyone can join in. Various colles castelleres (teams of castle builders) take part, each team trying to build a human castle and then dismantle it. The castle is considered to be built when a boy or girl (the enxaneta) climbs to the top of the castle and raises one arm.
A correfoc (fire running) is a popular Catalan cultural event in which a group of people dressed as devils dance through the streets of a town running and jumping between fireworks. It takes place at night and is accompanied by popular woodwind and drum music.
A caganer is a typical figure from the Catalan Christmas crib, who is dressed like a peasant in traditional Catalan dress and is squatting down to defecate. Although the traditional figure is a peasant, they are also made with the faces of famous politicians and sports people.
Tió de Nadal
The Christmas Log is shaped like a tree trunk with a smiling face on one end, partially covered with a blanket. He is placed with the other Christmas decorations and the children symbolically feed the Tió every day till Christmas Eve when he “craps” presents. That night the children beat the trunk with a stick until the gifts appear, singing songs about this character.
This is a festivity of Christian origins that is celebrated in the neighbourhood of Gràcia (where IED is located) and in other parts of the city. Associations are formed to organise activities on 3rd March, the main one being a parade through the streets by horse-drawn carts, from which sweets are thrown.
La Mercè is the annual festival (Catalan: festa major) of the city of Barcelona. It has been an official city holiday since 1871, when the local government first organized a program of special activities to observe the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Mercy, La Mare de Déu de la Mercè in Catalan. Although the actual feast day is September 24th, the festivities begin a few days beforehand. Some of the most important features of the festival were introduced in the year 1902, when parades included papier maché “giants” known as gegants i capgrossos and a popular dance that was becoming popular throughout Catalonia: the Sardana. The holiday has enjoyed immense local popularity ever since. Among more recently introduced traditions are the annual Catalan Wine Fair, a special correfoc, a 10 km race and the pyro-musical, a display featuring synchronized fireworks, water fountains and music conducted at the base of the Montjuïc mountain.
Revetlla de Sant Joan
The Sant Joan popular festival is celebrated on the night of 23 June all over Catalonia. It coincides with the summer solstice, which is the shortest night and longest day of the year. The festival is normally celebrated in the open air, often on the beach and around a bonfire. The undisputed stars of this celebration are the fire crackers, the cava for toasts and the traditional coca, a kind of sweet bread, in all its varieties: with pine nuts, crystallised fruit, custard, etc.
All Saints Day and the Castañada
1st November is the day to remember the deceased. It is very common for families to visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of their loved ones.
As usual, this celebration involves a typical meal. In this case, it is the castañada, from the Spanish for chestnuts. They are roasted and served with sweet potatoes and panellets, a baked sweet made of sweetened mashed potato or sweet potato covered in pine nuts.
Mona de Pascua
The first Monday after Easter is the day of the mona, when godparents give their godchildren a cake with a chocolate figurine, the mona, on it. This tradition has grown so much that confectioneries are now creating ever more complex and elaborate chocolate figurines.
La Patum de Berga (Barcelona)
This is a traditional celebration held during the Corpus Christi festivities in the town of Berga, in Barcelona province. It was declared a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and is therefore automatically a Treasure of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Spain. La Patum started at the end of the 14th century as an essentially popular festival. In the celebrations, various representations of mystic and symbolic figures dance to the rhythm of music and drums. The dances are characterised by their solemnity and the use of fire and fireworks.
The Fallas (Valencia)
This is a festival of International Tourist interest celebrated from 15th to 19th March in various towns in the Valencian Community. Its origins were pagan, celebrating the coming of spring, and later religious, with the carpenters’ guild burning sawdust and bits of wood on a purifying fire on the eve of their patron saint, Saint Joseph. The festival has continued to evolve and today satirical sculptures depicting current topics are burned.
Fiestas del Pilar (Zaragoza)
This festival is in honour of the Virgen del Pilar or Virgin Mary of the Pillar. The high point of this festival, which has been declared of National Tourist Interest, the Offering of Flowers, takes place on 12th October, the Día del Pilar. Other celebrations are held on the streets during the festival: inhabitants dressed in typical regional costumes pour onto the streets of the Aragonese capital to take their offerings to the Virgin and there are parades of giants and giant heads.
The festival in honour of St. Fermin is celebrated in Pamplona, Navarre. The celebrations start on 6th July with the chupinazo, the launching of a rocket that signals the opening of the festivities. The most famous event is the encierro, or running of the bulls, that ends in the city’s bullring.
April Fair (Seville)
The Seville April Fair takes place in the second or third week after Easter. The festivities start with the alumbrao, when the lights on the main entrance to the fairground are switched on. The fairground is covered with marquees, called casetas, where the celebrations take place. Groups of people gather there to eat, drink, dance and sing sevillanas. For many years now Barcelona has celebrated its own April fair where visitors can enter numerous casetas and attractions free of charge.
The most outstanding events of this religious festival are the processions, in which the faithful carry an image of the Virgin or Christ on their shoulders through the streets of the city. They are accompanied by a band that sets the pace with its music and crowds of people follow behind. The processions and other events take place from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
The most spectacular Holy Week processions are in Seville, Valladolid, Zamora and Malaga. Also worthy of note is the drum festival in Calanda, Teruel.
In Catalonia numerous towns have their own processions while other places hold unique events, such as the Dance of Death in Verges and the Passion Plays in Esparreguera.
El Rocío (Huelva)
The Pilgrimage of El Rocío is a picturesque Andalusian journey in honour of the Virgin of El Rocío. The culminating events are held during Whit Sunday weekend. The Virgin is kept in the elaborate Hermitage of El Rocío in the village of the same name.
Cadiz Carnival (Cádiz)
The carnival, which is a Tourist Festival of International Interest and a Treasure of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Spain, is held in February. It takes place on the streets of Cadiz. The heart of the carnival is the official contest for musical groups. The competition is divided into four sections, for coros or choruses, comparsas or close-harmony groups, chirigotas or satirical musical groups and cuartetos or quartets. The contest takes place in the Gran Teatro Falla over the space of a month, and after the eliminatory stages culminates on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. The carnival festivities start at the end of the contest.
Las Palmas and Tenerife Carnivals (Canary Islands)
Las Palmas carnival: over five centuries of tradition have made this the most popular event on the islands. Tenerife carnival: a Festival of International Tourist Interest. During the festival there are galas to elect the Carnival Queen and Carnival Drag Queen, and many events organised by the male and female murgas or musical theatre groups and comparsas or groups of dancers, musicians and singers, who perform the traditional, up-beat carnival music.