Spain’s oldest Christmas market Fira de Santa Llucia used to be where girls arranged marriages

Spain goes all out when it comes to fiestas, and the Christmas celebration is no different. 

But it’s the lead up to Christmas day that makes December 25 so special. 

Spanish cities are awash with bright and colourful decorations during the day, and dazzling light shows at nights. 

Old town squares transform into labyrinths of Christmas stalls. 

It’s at these markets where you can often find a charming gift, or knick knack you won’t be able to find anywhere else, or go all in with the chocolate and taste some decadent turrón while sipping a warm hot chocolate. 

Fira De Santa Llucia In Past Photo Association Of Fira De Santa Llucia
The Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas market in Barcelona has always been a point where people gathered. Photo: Association of Fira de Santa Llucia

The Christmas markets are where some of the fondest memories of the festive season are created.

You simply cannot look past Spain’s oldest market though, the Fira de Santa Llucia in Barcelona. 

This beloved market stretches out along Avinguda de la Catedral in the gothic quarter of the Catalonian capital.

It first sold paper and clay nativity figurines to churchgoers in 1786 and the first mention of the market was by Rafael Amat, a Catalan writer in the 18th century.

Amat made reference to a ‘party in the street’, where nativity scenes, images of saints, shepherds, animals and a ‘multitude of people’ gathered. 

It is also said that the same fair was known as the ‘fair of the girls’, since it was believed that single girls went there to arrange marriages.

Christmas Lights In Barcelona, Spain 26 Nov 2022
Thousands flock to the Christmas market ‘Fira de Santa Llucia’ each year. photo: Cordon Press

Girls were accompanied by their mothers, were well dressed and well groomed, in order to find a suitor. 

Today, it draws thousands of shoppers each day in the lead up to Christmas where they browse decorations, mistletoe, and handcrafted gifts at almost 300 stalls. 

The market closes on December 23.

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