L’ou com balla (the dancing egg) is a Barcelones tradition performed on the eve of Corpus Christi, a Catholic celebration held sixty days after Easter Sunday whose origins lie in a 13th century miracle. From here it is not clear exactly how the tradition of the dancing egg was born, but it seems to have emerged in the 15th century.
There is no magic involved as the name might suggest, rather a hollowed out egg shell balanced on the tip of a jet of water from a fountain. The surrounds of the fountain are usually decorated with flowers, fruits, plants and other floral decoration – these also help to prevent the eggshell from falling and cracking which could be bad luck. In formal terms the egg is a symbol of the Eucharist, though it is also associated with fertility and with eternity.
This delightful custom with the unpredictability of the water has a special old fashioned charm and medieval charm and the tradition has spread to places near Barcelona such as Tarragona and Sitges.
If you are in Barcelona on June 23, you can see the dancing egg in Barcelona’s Cathedral La Seu, in the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol), the Frederic Marès Museum, in the parish of Santa Anna, the Casa de l’Ardiaca in Ateneu Barcelona, in the parish of Puríssima Concepció and in the Royal Academy of Bones Lletres.