The Tres Tombs Parade is a celebration of the feast of St Anthony Abbot, celebrated across towns and cities in Spain every 17th of January. Saint Anthony Abbot was a Roman Catholic monk and patron saint of domestic animals, basket weavers, farmers, grave diggers and the sick.
This celebration is especially noticed throughout Catalonia where parades known as Els Tres Tombs take place in several towns. These processions complete three laps of the town, and date back to the 15th century when farmers would bring their animals into town to be blessed. In Barcelona, this festival takes place and locals are encouraged to bring their own pets to be blessed. Romans would also walk around their temples for good fortune.
Don’t be confused by the word ‘tombs’ it does not have the same meaning as it does in English, it in fact translates from Catalan to ‘tours’ or ‘walks’. So tres tombs is a literal translation into three tours.
The Three Tombs in Barcelona
If you’re in Barcelona this January the three tombs parade is something you must experience, to see the animal- drawn vehicles of bygone days.
El Cavalcada dels Tres Tombs de Sant Antoni takes place on the first Saturday following Saint Anthony’s day, the 17th of January. The parade begins at 11am in Avinguda del Paral-lel, goes through the centre and ends at the Mercat de Sant Antoni.
At this festival you will see over 50 horse drawn vehicles, such as carriages, farm vehicles, fire engines, hearses accompanied by brass brands, mounted police and horses, and ponies of all shapes and sizes with riders in traditional costumes. The parade is usually around two and a half hours long.
Blessing the animals and riders
During the procession, they pass L’Escola Pia Sant Antoni church, where the horses and riders are blessed by a priest. After the animals in the parade have been blessed, locals who bring their own pets have them blessed and anointed with holy water.
You can bring your dogs, cats or birds to be blessed. You can even bring your pet hamster if you have one, the blessing of the small animals takes place at the front of the church.
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Tortell de San Antoni
On January 17th it is always a tradition to buy or make the tortell shaped like a roscón or horseshoe. This is similar to the roscón de Reyes and was originally filled with marzipan. Now, they are also made halved and filled with cream or truffle and garnished with candied fruits. You also hide a bean (so that whoever finds this pays for the roscón) and figure of an animal in the roscón for the winner.
How to make your own Tortell de San Antonio
Recipe for 6 servings:
250 gr flour + a little extra
100 gr sugar
75ml warm milk
1tbsp orange blossom water tureen
Peel of an orange
10gr bakery yeast
1 pinch salt
3tbsp tureens of sunflower oil
To make the dessert:
Step 1 – Put all the flour and yeast into a bowl and make a hole in the centre. Add to the hole the sugar, oil, orange blossom water, an egg and an egg white (reserve the other yolk), a pinch of salt, the orange zest and the warm milk.
Step 2 – Mix all the ingredients well and proceed to knead by hand or with a mixer. The dough must be flexible without getting caught in the hands, add flour if necessary.
Step 3 – Once the dough is made, make it into a ball and cover with a clean cloth, allowing this to sit for a few hours.
Step 4 – Once risen, knead the dough again, shape into either a horseshoe or roscón shape and insert the bean and figurine into it. Put it onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Step 5 – Brush with the beaten egg yolk and a tablespoon of water, decorate with the candied fruits and almond cubes and allow this to rest for an hour.
Step 6 – After an hour, heat the oven to 180º and let the roscón bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 7 – Once cooked, allow to cool. When it is cold, cut it in half and fill with the filling of your choice and sprinkle it with icing sugar.
Route of the Parade in 2022
The parade in Barcelona this 2022 takes place through:
- Ronda de Sant Pau
- Ronda Sant Antoni
- Plaça Universitat
- La Rambla
- Carrer de Hospital
- Plaça del Pedró
- Carrer Manso
- Mercat de Sant Antoni
This year the festival will begin on the 23rd of the 1st 2022, at the Igualada, organised by the Antic Gremi de Traginers d’Igualada.
Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.