The Catalan Calendar in Sweets

This blog post was originally posted on April 2, 2015, and was updated on September 25, 2017.

We love the huge selection of sweets in Barcelona! However, did you know that you can follow the calendar in Spain through its sweets?

Following the days, weeks and months of the year can be a pretty fun pastime for a sweet tooth in Spain. Beyond the usual croissants, xuixos and other treats, pastry shops work in a seasonal way by following the age-old Catholic calendar.

Year after year, the shelves see a rotation of different sweets that reflect a certain holiday or traditional event. Coming to Barcelona in June? You’ll see cocas de san joan everywhere. However, if you are arriving in chilly December, the list is a lot longer of delicious treats to choose from. Follow the calendar in the sweetest way possible, through these delicious Catalan treats!

The pastry shops in Spain work by season...they follow the Catholic calendar! Thoughout the year, different seasons, months or weeks have their own special sweets associated with saints days and different Catholic holidays!

January

Don’t be surprised to find that we are still loosening the belts long after we’ve made our New Year’s resolutions! The festivities in Spain continue on into the new year for Three Kings Day, which falls on January 6th. Try the tortell de reis, or King’s cake, a round pastry cake stuffed with marzipan and hiding a small figurine and a bean. Whoever finds the figurine is crowned King, whereas the person who finds the bean must pay for the cake. It’s one of our favorite sweets in Barcelona at any time of the year!

The "coca de llardons" is a sweet, crunchy bread decorated with pork rinds, pine nuts and sugar.
Coca de llardons, typical of Fat Thursday.

February

February is the month that often marks the beginning of Lent. This period also traditionally symbolizes restriction and restraint. Different cultures have different ways of splurging beforehand, and here in Catalonia that comes in the form of a coca de llardons, along with other savory treats!

coca can be any type of elongated bread or pastry, coming in sweet and savory forms. The coca de llardons is a pastry covered with pork rinds, sugar and pine nuts. Take that for indulgent!

March

March marches on with Lent, as we start to see bunyols de quaresma, literally, Lent fritters, which are covered in sugar and generally come in two forms, donut-shaped, or round and sometimes filled with cream.

The tortell de reis is a kings cake typical of Epiphany day, or the 6th of January. Just one of the delicious sweets in Barcelona.
Mini tortells de reis!

April

Perhaps April is one of traditional pastry shops’ most taxing moments. The store windows will be decorated with impressive chocolate sculptures ranging anywhere from €20 to €100! These are called monas de Pascua, which are gifts that godfathers give to their godson or daughter on Easter Day.

May

Though May has no link to any traditional Catholic holiday, pastry chefs often take advantage to get creative in the kitchen and try new recipes. With the extra time on their hands, they will often decorate their regular sweets with Mother’s Day dedications. Any excuse to eat more sweets in Barcelona.

June

June marks the summer solstice, and also one of Catalonia’s most prized holidays, Sant Joan. During this week, we eat tons of coca de Sant Joan, an enormous pastry covered with sugar, pine nuts and candied fruit. It’ s one of the most delicious sweets in Barcelona!

Just another one of the tastiest sweets in Barcelona! A beautiful chocolate sculpture, or mona de Pascua, as their called, in celebration of Easter. Godfathers give their godchildren the day after Easter.
An elaborate monas de Pascua.

July

July is the month of Sant Cristofòl Day, the patron saint of travelers. Thus, many pastry shops make volants de Sant Cristofòl, a brioche with a cherry in the middle, imitating the horn on a truck, car or other vehicle.

August

As there are no typical sweets in Barcelona for August, we will take this moment to recognize one of our favorite Catalan desserts, mel i mató. This is the simplest dessert out there, made with fresh mató cheese, a Catalan cheese similar to ricotta and is topped with honey and walnuts. Though you can eat it all year-round, we can’t imagine a better time than the hot month of August.

Our favorite sweets in Barcelona! We love turron, a delicious Christmas nougat sweet!
Delicious turron!

September

September’s sweet may not be linked to the Catholic calendar, but it is equally important and traditional in all of Catalonia. The 11th of September is the Diada, or National Day of Catalonia, an enormous celebration of its culture as well as history. Make sure to grab a piece of red and yellow striped cake, decorated as the Catalan flag.

October/November

Panellets, or little breads, are sweets in Barcelona that are typical of All Saints day, though we tend to see them towards the end of October and throughout November. There are many varieties, but the most typical are made of marzipan and covered in pine nuts. Try making your own with our traditional recipe!

December

What better time of year than the holidays to enjoy loads of traditional Spanish and Catalan sweets? Turró is by far the most famous Christmas sweet nation-wide, also coming in many different versions. Here in Catalonia, we also see a lot of neules, which are delicate cylinder wafer cookies, sometimes covered in chocolate—yum!

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2 Comment

  1. Andreu says
    April 6, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Very good choice I would say! I only missed the Crema Catalana o Crema de Sant Josep that you can find all year round but is typical of March. And well, maybe carquinyolis, but I don’t think they really associate with a particular time of the year.

    I think there were a couple of typos though (torró, mones). http://www.iec.cat

    Interesting and well-written!

    Reply
    1. Renee says
      April 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Very true Andreu, thanks for the tips! We mentioned mother’s day but forgot about father’s day…how unfair of us!

      Reply

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