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Spanish and Catalan cuisine

A Traditional Catalan Christmas Dinner – How to Celebrate Christmas

Written by Laura

Christmas is a celebration in which good food takes center stage. This social act of sharing food while surrounded by family and friends, something that takes place within many different cultures, is a landmark aspect of Christmas celebrations.

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Are you wondering what Spanish people eat at Christmas? Well, every region has traditional Spanish Christmas dishes that fill the table where loved ones sit, and the region of Catalonia is no exception.

The various holiday dishes of the Catalan kitchen have one important thing in common; the plates are strong in flavor and incredibly delicious, helping to get through the cold and frigid winter nights.

Today in this article from ShBarcelona we’ll be talking about typical Catalan dishes used to celebrate Christmas.

What is a traditional Catalan Christmas dinner?

A Catalan Christmas

It’s typical on Christmas day for people to eat together in the house of a family member, reuniting a large part of the extended family who are hopefully on good terms so they can all share an exquisite celebratory Catalan meal prepared for the time together.

christmas table being set

Photo via Pixabay

Coats, hats and umbrellas generally accompany the guests as they arrive in the winter weather, sometime more in hope of a lovely snowy Christmas than the warming climate actually calls for, even late in December.

Although there is less of an opportunity for a holiday picture in the snow, this doesn’t affect the ability to have a delicious menu for the holiday dinner.

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What do Catalan people eat at Christmas – First course

The first thing Catalans typically do is have an appetizer of soup, and not just any soup, but galets soup.

galets soup

Photo by JaulaDeArdilla via VisualHunt

This is a snail-shaped pasta cooked in a broth of vegetables, potatoes, chicken and beans along with the an ingredient called la pilota, a type of large spicy meatball made with eggs, bread crumbs, garlic and parsley.

This strong dish, both nutritious and delicious, is a popular first course to serve at Christmas dinner, although it can also be enjoyed as its own meal.

Related article: Caga Tío – A Catalan Christmas Tradition

Second course of the Catalan Christmas dinner

For a second course in Catalan homes it’s typical to have a large stuffed chicken cooked to perfection in the oven.

This dish, similar to the stuffed turkey served at the traditionally Anglo Saxon Thanksgiving dinner, is usually filled or stuffed with other delicious things which in Catalonia can include dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, apples pine nuts.

roast chicken

Photo via Pixabay

These additions make the chicken honeyed and tasty, with a sweeter touch that goes perfectly with the smokey meat of the stuffed chicken.

What is important to remember is that whatever is left of this feast, such as the carn d’olla or chicken of the soup, is used the next day for the famous meat cannellonis eaten on San Esteban, which takes place on December 26.

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How to finish the Christmas dinner

Of course, even with the delicious food from these meals, you have to leave room in your stomach for some Catalan dessert. Typically, the dessert is made from a base of nougat, neula (a Catalan biscuit) and nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts.

christmas tabel in reds and greens

Photo via Pixabay

Pair all this with a good Catalan cava and you have the formula for a perfect ending to a Catalan Christmas dinner.

Are there any traditional Spanish Christmas dishes you like?
Tell us where you go for traditional Catalan food in Barcelona!

About the author


American journalist living temporarily in Spain. Her passions include news and feature writing, Spanish language and culture and the outdoors.

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