Living in a different country such as Spain it is always interesting to see how other cultures celebrate holidays we share.
With Christmas right around the corner I thought I’d share some Catalan Christmas traditions that I find interesting.
When you rent apartments in Barcelona during this time of year you will notice huge pasta shells are part of the decoration.
That is because they go into the sopa de galets, the traditional Catalan Christmas soup.
The Catalan Nativity Scene
One interesting figure you will find in the Catalan nativity scene, the Pessebre, is the Caganer, which literally translated means the Pooper. It is a figure of a Catalan peasant pooping.
Traditionally he is wearing a red hat, the barretina, a white shirt and his pants are half down. The origins of this figure aren’t clear.
One explanation is that he is fertilizing the land for a good harvest the next year which is also a symbol for good luck and joy.
As of recently you can also find little statues of famous people in the typical Caganer position.
and children will put their shoes along with a snack out before they go to bed, if they have been good they receive gifts, if they haven’t been well behaved they get coal instead.
More Catalan Christmas Traditions
Another tradition that makes reference to poop is the caga tió, the poop log. It is a hollow log standing on four legs. It has a smiling face painted on and is also wearing the red barretina.
It comes out on Dec 8th and until Christmas day it gets “fed” and covered at night so it won’t get cold.
Similar to a Mexican piñada on Christmas day it gets beaten to make it drop candy and little gifts.
Traditions for Children
An exciting night especially for children is the night before the arrival of the 3 Kings (Jan 5th), because they are the ones who bring the gifts.
There will be a Three Kings Parade, Cavalcada de Reis, that will go through the city.
Candy is thrown to the people at the side of the street and children will put their shoes along with a snack out before they go to bed, if they have been good they receive gifts, if they haven’t been well behaved they get coal instead.
I hope nobody was offended by the references to poop. They go back to an old Catalan saying Menja bé, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort! translated “Eat well, poop strong and don’t be afraid of death.”
I can assure you that the poop references won’t go any further, but rent accommodation in Barcelona apartments to see for yourself how beautiful the city is during the Christmas festive season.