- Open Air
The Barcelona City Hall, together with the Cathedral, has decided to breathe new life into one of the city’s oldest and most entertaining public traditions: the feast of Corpus Christi.
The Dancing Egg, which dates back to 1637, is one of the most unique traditions of the city of Barcelona. Indeed, it’s the only modern tradition the world over in which an egg is made to dance. The custom, which entails balancing an egg atop the fountains of cloisters, patios, and gardens, has gone uninterrupted, and the spectacle at some locations is particularly long-lived. The one in the Cloister of the Cathedral is the first instance documented in the city, and dates back to 1440. Also emblematic are the sites at the Frederic Marès Museum and the Casa de l’Ardiaca, where you can observe the egg from the upper gallery.
This one-of-a-kind custom incorporates the basic elements of an egg, water, and an abundance of flowers. These three components each represent fertility and fruitfulness, apt for the rebirth that the springtime brings. Although its exact origins are not completely known, there are various theories. Some say the Dancing Egg derives from a representation of the exaltation of the Eucharist (the egg) atop the holy chalice (the basket that recovers and captures the flow of water, richly decorated with flowers and cherries). It also represents the Holy Form within a sacred vessel adorned with precious stones.
For others, it’s simply a metaphor for the circle of life and a reference to time and perpetual motion. Still others believe it emerged as a diversion to entertain the noblemen of Calle Montcada while they awaited the Corpus Christi Procession.
The custom of the dancing egg can also be observed in many places outside of the patios of Barcelona’s Old City (Ciutat Vella). Today, it’s also on view atop fountains at many public buildings, private homes, and religious sites throughout town.