“Ou com ball”: Barcelona Cathedral’s “dancing egg”
If you are thinking about visiting Barcelona in the late spring, pay especially close attention: there is a tradition throughout the province of Catalonia taking place at the end of spring that is a truly unique and unforgettable sight. We present to you, ou com balla, translating literally as the “dancing egg”. Witness this cultural peculiarity with your own eyes around this time of year – it’s another great excuse to travel with kids to Barcelona!
What exactly is the ou com balla?
You can try it yourself: place an empty egg on the vertical spout of a fountain and watch it happily maintain its position as the water flows. Fountains featuring this oddity of nature and phsyics are traditionally decorated with flowers, greenery, and bunches of red cherries. The weirdest part? Scholars don’t have many leads as to why this small balancing act came to be associated with the holidays.
When does the ou com balla happen?
This tradition coincides with the religious holiday of Corpus Christi in late spring. The origins are said to go back as far as 1636, when it is said that the first egg danced in the cloisters of Barcelona Cathedral.
Where can the ou com balla be found?
The popular spots to find the “dancing egg” are generally clustered in the central gothic area of Barcelona near La Rambla and finding the make a great excursion. You can see the ou com balla at the Cathedral of Barcelona, the museum Museo Frederic Marès, at the Church of Saint Anne (la Parroquia de Santa Anna), in the Archdiocese Mansion and Museum (Casa de l’Ardiaca), on the terrace of the Barcelona Athenaeum (el Ateneo Barcelonés), at the Church of Immaculate Conception (la Parroquia de la Purísima Concepción), the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres) or in the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol).
Perhaps the most spectacular place to observe “dancing egg” is the Monestary at Pedralbes, just on the outskirts of Barcelona.
The “dancing egg” is one of many of Spain’s vibrant traditions surrounding the springtime Christian religious holidays, which include processions and performances and flower-covered streets. To see more of these traditions, especially the flowers, we recommend venturing just outside of Barcelona to Sitges, Arbúcies, or a bit further to La Garriga.