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New Year’s Eve Celebrations & the Reis Mags’ Visit

There are certain things that, without a doubt, must be common to different cultures when it comes to New Year’s Eve. We all reflect on the positive and negative experiences, what we’ve achieved or what we’ve learnt. However, when it comes to traditions, each culture seems to have their own peculiar rituals and ways to say farewell to the year. Catalonia, as you may have guessed, is no exception to this.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Catalonia

Every December 31st, families gather together to welcome the new year. Once again (as if we haven’t been eating enough these days), there’s a big meal on the table. This time the rules to celebrate change a little: everyone has to wear something red. Not doing so will bring you a whole year of bad luck.

Also, it’s essential that the house becomes a mess fifteen minutes before midnight.

12 Grapes for New Year's Eve

12 Grapes for New Year’s Eve (Image credit: www.npr.com)

This is because we’ve all been enjoying a little chat over desserts and we haven’t realised it’s almost time to get the 12 grapes ready! Everyone gets nervous counting how many grapes they’ve got in their glass and chaos reigns. ‘Are you ready?’, ‘It’s almost time!’, ‘Hurry up, mum! It’s not time to go to the loo right now!’, ‘Oh no! I only have 11 grapes’, ‘Shut up everyone, I can’t hear the TV!’.

And the time arrives. The chimes of the bell that announce midnight are broadcast on TV. The challenge is to eat each grape along with each one of these 12 chimes. They say not achieving this brings bad luck too, but what this tradition definitely brings is a rush of adrenaline and hysterical laughs while trying to swallow all the grapes in time.

After this, families welcome the new year with a glass of Cava before the youngest head to meet their friends for a celebratory night out.

Glass of Cava to celebrate New Year's Eve

Glass of Cava (Image by Latfusa)

With the new year come the Three Wise Men

But this doesn’t mark the end of the festive celebrations for us. Not just yet. Santa doesn’t visit Catalonia and children haven’t had their Christmas presents yet! For us, Christmas isn’t over until January 6th, the most magical night of the year – especially for the little ones.

On the 5th, the Three Wise Men come from the East riding their camels to bring children their presents, putting an end to the Christmas festivities. The arrival of the Three Kings is celebrated early in the evening with colourful parades in every town, in which Their Majesties can be seen throwing sweets for children to catch. Then, filled with magic and excitement, kids go to bed early after preparing some snacks and water for the Kings and their camels.

And the awaited moment comes! In the morning of the 6th, every parent will be woken up by a happy face shouting ‘The Kings have been!!’. The whole family will unwrap presents and eat Tortell de Reis for breakfast. It’s King’s Day.

After New Year's Eve, the Three Wise Men bring presents to children on January 6th

Reis Mags or the Three Wise Men riding their camels (Image credit: National Geographic en Español)

After two weeks of traditions, eating, celebrating and eating a little bit more, everyone goes back slowly into normal life. It’s only a whole year until all these wonderful traditions are repeated again. In case you missed our previous entries about them, our blog is full of typical recipes for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and other festive traditions like El Caga Tió.

We wish everyone an amazing start of the year and remember Tast is back to open as usual on January 4th, with what promises to be a year of new challenges and amazing projects!