Sant Medir: the festival of sweets that’s a hit with children
Article updated 19 April, 2017.
Sant Medir is called "the sweetest festival" of the year, and if you are tempted by the idea of a shower of sweets then get your umbrellas ready!
Gràcia Sarrià and La Bordeta
3rd of March
to discover a little-known aspect of Barcelona culture
Barcelona is a city full of culture and folklore. Some of its traditions are very well known, but others less so: for example Sant Medir. But if you happen to be in Barcelona with children on the 3rd of March, be sure you don’t miss it!
The legend of Sant Medir
Legend has it that in the 4th century at Sant Cugat (near Barcelona), a farmer named Medir saw a bishop fleeing past. He was trying to escape persecution by the Romans. However, he begged Medir not to lie to the Romans: if they came asking if he had seen the bishop he was to tell them the truth.
The bishop carried on his path and the beans planted by Medir immediately began to blossom miraculously.
A little later the Romans came to Medir and asked him the fatal question: had he seen the bishop? He told them he had but for a reason no one knows, the Romans didn’t believe him.
When they found the bishop they captured him and came back to imprison and kill Medir. Medir then became Saint Medir (Sant Medir in Catalan), the patron saint of peasants.
The pilgrimage of Sant Medir
The history of the festival of Sant Medir then takes a leap through time to the 19th century when the baker Josep Vidal y Granès, a devotee of Sant Medir, fell gravely ill.
He fell to prayer and promised that if he recovered he would organise an annual pilgrimage to Sant Cugat, the town of Saint Medir. After a year of suffering he defeated his illness.
True to his promise, he then left on a pilgrimage on the 3rd of march from the Gràcia neighbourhood where he lived. To announce his passing he beat a drum as he went and gave sweets to passers-by. Some joined him and their numbers grew year after year.
Thus the festival of Sant Medir was born! In 1926, an organisation was founded to continue the tradition and organise it every year.
The modern Sant Medir parades
Today, Sant Medir parades are organised every 3rd of March by the Sant Medir association. They generally take place in the Gràcia, Sarrià and La Bordeta neighbourhoods. These are the least touristic areas of Barcelona so the parades feel very local!
The Sant Medir festival is nicknamed “the sweetest festival of the year” as there are nearly 60 tonnes of sweets distributed each year. The parade is also accompanied by a procession of horses and chariots.
You will also see a lot of umbrellas around, for two reasons, the first being that the weather can be unpredictable around the 3rd of March. But the umbrellas are also used to collect the sweets that rain down from the chariots. Clever!
There are many parades on the day of Sant Medir. This year the morning ones take place between 9am and 1pm in the streets of the different areas:
- Gràcia: parades on carrer del Torrent de l’Olla, carrer de l’Escorial, plaça de la Vila and at Gran de Gràcia.
- Sarrià: meeting carrer Major de Sarrià.
- La Bordeta: parades start at carrer Constitució.
In the evening there is traditionally only one parade in Gràcia. Children march while they are given sweets!
For information on the evening parade, click here (information is in Catalan).
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