29 November 2010

Cataluña: Bringing a Whole New Meaning to the Yule Log

Things I'm excited about
+Seeing my family
+Going to Bravo for Christmas Eve Dinner
+Having adequate cold-weather clothing
+Showering for longer than 30 seconds
+Playing cards
+My dog

Things I miss about home
+My grandma's Christmas party
+Our advent calendar
+Making cookies and buckeyes
+Getting a Christmas tree

But none of this [okay, some of it, but definitely not showering] compares to how in love I am with Cataluña's Christmas traditions. This is a land obsessed with 4 things: pigs, fire, olive oil, and poo. Christmas wouldn't be a real holiday without at least two of these things figuring into the celebrating somehow.

Maybe you've heard that instead of Santa Claus, the 3 Kings come on January 6th to deliver presents, but they aren't the only ones. On December 8thish, everyone pulls out their Tió de Nadal. He's a log with a face propped up on two sticks and he looks like this:

Terrifying. Every night until Christmas, kids bring him food (ham, probably) and drinks and cover him with a blanket to keep him comfy. When Christmas morning comes and he's nice and full, they sing "Caga tió!" which means "Poo, log!" and hit him with a stick so that he'll poo. According to Carme Bach, world's most adorable Catalán teacher, you can make the tió go faster if you light the sticks on fire first. When it's finally had enough abuse, the log then poos out candy and little presents for everybody.

Cute shit. Literally.

But wait, there's more! For all you skeptics out there who think that the Christmas story is just a little too good to be true, check out the Catalán nativity. It's exactly like a American nativity except for one extra guy: the caganer/pooer who's included to make the scene more realistic.

Should you choose to subscribe to Wikipedia's alternate theory that the caganer is only there for kids, you should take into consideration that in 2005 there was an outcry with the city didn't include him in the public nativity. Due to protests, he was included again in 2006.

p.s. Barcelona's not completely poo. They've got giant pasta Christmas lights all over the city which is more or less all I could ever want in a holiday decoration decoration.

p.p.s. DAD, I know you're reading this. Do not even think about telling Ian about the pooer or the log. He's getting one for Christmas, obvs.


Nirja Desai said...

When do you come home Laura??

laura said...

I come back the 22nd but I don't get back to Philadelphia until mid-January!