The Xicolatada is a traditional festival celebrated in the village of Palau-de-Cerdagne in Languedoc-Roussillon. It has been celebrated yearly on 16 August for over 300 years.
In Catalonia, 15 August was once a festival day, and the locals would drink to the point that they felt ill the following morning. To feel better, the village chocolatier offered them a hot chocolate, which he claimed was an excellent remedy. Over the years, this habit grew into a custom, and eventually a municipal association was formed to remember the tradition and to organise the distribution of hot chocolate every year on 16 August, at precisely 11 in the morning.
Today, the chocolate is brewed in large cauldrons over a wood fire. The festival draws many tourists to the village every year. To preserve the tradition, festival organisers have created a sort of confraternity called the Mestres xicolaters, or “master chocolatiers”, who keep the recipes for the chocolate secret; the organisation also handles scheduling, which it does not reveal in advance.
If you’re up to it, there is a World Festival of Chocolate and Cacao October 31 – November 4 2018 in Paris.
This image of a Master Chocolatier was commissioned by the Xicolatada Festival and created by the French design company Kollectif Kapadenom. It is is in the public domain under a GNU Free Documentation License.