This Christmas we're not going home to Miami (sniff, sniff) and even though we're a bit sad about that, we're going to make the most of staying in Barcelona by having a semi-Catalan Christmas this year. So, what exactly is a Catalan Christmas you may be wondering? Well, it's not really a Santa Claus, Rudolph and Jingle Bells kind of thing. There are some similarities with a traditional American Christmas. Some families put up a tree and tell their kids that Papa Noel is coming to give them treats and gifts on the 25th. But most Catalan families, especially those with small children, prepare for Christmas by putting out a smiling little log with a red hat on his head called a Caga Tio. The name literally means Pooping Uncle and that's a pretty accurate description of what he is. You get a little Caga Tio for your home, cover him with a blanket and throughout the month of December, families 'feed' the Tio and then on the 24th, children sing a song and hit him with sticks so that he can poop out sweets.
Two weekends ago, we were walking around in the Old City and we saw an enormous Caga Tio set up on stage with sticks at the ready so that kids could line up and hit him. So that's exactly what we did.
After the kids finished singing and flogging the poor little log, they get a treat and as you can see the little one was very happy with his lollipop.
Another part of the Catalan celebrations, also poop related, is this traditional little figurine called the caganer or the pooper. This squatting, pooping little guy with his butt showing is part of the traditional Nativity scene and is place alongside Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. I think his poop is supposed to be good luck because it fertilized the soil and meant a good harvest was coming or something. Many people don't know the real reason behind it (pun intended).
Another shot for the cheap seats in the back. But this is the caganer all decked out in Catalan independence flags. I'm sure you never think of patriotism and poop in the same sentence but there's a first time for everything.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are and however you celebrate.
Bon Nadal a tothom!