Sant Antoni Abat, president of the ‘Setmana dels Barbuts’

Mid-January brings some of the coldest days of the year, a period which has been popularly dubbed as the ‘Setmana dels Barbuts’ [week of the bearded ones]. The days of 15,16 and 17 January have come to be termed thus as the iconography representing the three saints whose days are celebrated on these dates depicts them all with long, thick beards. The three saints in question are Sant Pau Ermità (15 January), Sant Maur Abat (16 January) and Sant Antoni Abat (17 January).

Sometimes the tradition is extended beyond these three dates to include other saints who, naturally, also have beards. These are Sant Fructuós (21 January), and Sant Vicenç Màrtir (22 January). Some people also include slightly lesser-bearded saints in the same period, such as Sant Benet and Sant Efigi (15 January), Sant Faci (17 January) and Sant Canut (19 January).

An example of how firmly rooted this popular tradition is can be found in popular sayings which refer to these saints’ days, the very cold weather and their beards: ‘When the three bearded ones come: Sant Pau Ermità, Sant Maur and Sant Antoni Abat, so does the coldest of weather’, or, ‘Between Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià it’s the coldest time of the whole year’, and ‘Sant Antoni with the piglet is the first saint of the cold weather’.