A TRADITIONAL AUTUMN IN SPAIN
It’s the end of the summer: autumn in Spain is just begining. Soon the leaves of the platan trees in la Rambla will become yellow and fall down covering the boulevard with a crunchy natural carpet.
This time of the year is full of local traditions, inspired by the celebration of the harvest, nature transitioning to a quiet sleep, and also important dates and events in our history. Are you curious to know what do we celebrate? Maybe you want to know if there is a Halloween in Barcelona? It’s also a fantastic idea to incorporate local celebrations to your trip planning when possible.
Today we share with you our favorite Barcelona fall traditions:
Although the coincidence is unlucky, Catalan people celebrate our National Day (“La Diada”) on September 11th in memory of the defeat we suffered against the Bourbon army in 1714. For us, it is a day to think about what being Catalan means, rather than a celebration day. There’ll be political events around the Fossar de les Moreres, beside Santa Maria del Mar in the Born district.
Week before the 24th of September
September 24th is the day of La Mercè, our Lady of Mercy – patron saint of Barcelona, but the celebrations start days earlier: it’s the main festival of the city! Human towers, sardana dancing, folk demonstrations, traditional parades for children, the exciting fire run correfoc, concerts and street shows, and the spectacular firework and music festival Piromusical. In Plaça Catalunya near Portal de l’Àngel you will find an information point.
1st of November
In theory, we don’t celebrate Halloween in Barcelona (although you see more and more kids and teens dressing up influenced by what they see on the movies and TV). Instead, the local tradition is All Saints day. I won’t recommend you to visit a Barcelona graveyard (as locals will do to honor their beloved lost ones), but to visit a pastry shop and buy some panellets, delicious marzipan and nut sweets that are the traditional desert for this day. The night before, friends and relatives will be gathering to eat them to celebrate one of our favorite fall family traditions: La Castanyada.
One of my personal fall rituals is at least once a year buying roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes to the “castanyeres”, ladies selling this autumn products in their street stalls. There is usually one of them in the crossing of la Rambla with the street Cardenal Casañas.
If having a holiday on Thursday makes some people take a day off to get a quite long weekend (that’s called a “puente” in Spanish / “pont” in Catalan)… having Dec 6th and 8th as local holidays often generates a whole “aqueduct”…
Many people will take days off to go skying in the Pyrenees, or go shopping for Christmas presents. Take into account that some services such as bank offices will be closed, but usually shops have special permissions these dates to stay open for the holiday.
AND BONUS! One more fun tradition:
Catalans loooove mushrooms, and Autumn is the best time of the year to head to the forest and pick them up. Of course, you need to be careful and make sure to pick only those you know for sure they are edible – but a lot of locals are well trained to recognize at least the most popular species. If you aren’t, don’t worry: participate of the local crave by ordering mushrooms dishes at your favorite tapas bar or Catalan restaurants.
Don’t leave Barcelona without trying at least or favorite: “rovellons“. And if you are interested in trying other fall delicacies, don’t miss our post about Fruits and Vegetables eaten in Autumn in Spain.
What are your favorite fall traditions?
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