The Pooping Christmas Log
If you’re used to Christmas day being a cold, snowy and simple time of the year, you’d never believe how quite the opposite it is to celebrate in Barcelona. Of course Christmas is about spending time with family and sharing gifts but lots of other traditions line up with the 25th of December. Whether or not you are religious or you’d expect coal in your stocking, you’ll get a hoot out of the strange Catalan traditions for Christmas time in Barcelona.
Caga Tío (The pooping Christmas log): Where do we begin to explain this tradition? Instead of looking forward to Santa Claus, Catalan children have Caga Tio: the pooping Christmas log. Around the eight of December, Catalan families purchase a small caga tio. It becomes part of the family; joining on family dinners while getting nice and plump. On Christmas day, the log is hit by the children with sticks in his belly so he can "poop" out gifts. Often, families stuff this piñata-styled log with chocolate eggs.
The Three Kings: Those who are of Roman Catholic faith recognize the importance of The Three Kings. To celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Three Kings made a journey following a guiding star until they reached Bethlehem. This day is celebrated on January 6th, but in Barcelona, the day before is just as important. The scene is reenacted on a big ship and the Three Kings are welcomed into the Portal de la Pau where they meet the mayor who gives them the key to the city.
The giant Christmas noodle: As much as we love Catalan cuisine, this simple noodle is a huge part of the Christmas tradition. The "galet" is a noodle put in a soup that is eaten during the holiday season. Even though temperatures are milder in the Mediterranean, this winter dish is a warm and hearty soup that makes you feel like one of those kids in the Campbell’s chicken noodle soup commercials. The noodle is also featured as an art display around touristy places in the city to signify that it is the holiday season.
Feast of Los Santos Inocentes: Day of the Holy Innocents: What American's consider April Fool's Day, Catalonians call the Day of the Holy Innocents. On December 28th, everyone pulls simple pranks on each other that are usually deemed as "innocent" For instance, putting a kick me sign on someone's back. Yet, the actual holiday stems from a Catholic tradition in honor of young children that were killed around the time of Jesus' birth. These tiny jokes are pardoned because children like the ones killed are just too innocent to sin.
La Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market: We all love and adore the German Christmastime markets, but don’t underestimate the shopping sprees that can be made in Barcelona. This year marks the 225th anniversary of this fair which is located in the Barri Gothic area of the city. There is nothing like finding a unique handmade gift, or Caga Tio right from the Catalan market. Make sure to take note of locals singing traditional Christmas carols at night to get you right into the holiday spirit.
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Photo: Josep Ma. Rosell