December in BCN
December means Christmas and a new year are just around the corner. To get you in the Christmas spirit, we’re going to have a look at a couple of interesting Catalan Christmas traditions, as well as bringing you up to date with what’s going on in Barcelona this month. Bon Nadal!
©Ajuntament Barcelona, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode)
Maybe you’ve passed one in the street, seen one in the supermarket, or admired its majestic squat as it sat poised on a market stall staring deeply into your eyes. Wherever you saw it, I’m sure the Caganer piqued your interest. A proud Catalan Christmas tradition, ‘El Caganer’ literally means ‘the shitter’, and the small figurine is true to its name.
The tradition has existed since at least the 18th century, and historically depicted a peasant, trousers down, mid-dump, wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (barretina). Caganer started as a popular and essential figure of the pessebre, a reproduction of a pastoral scene which mirrors the typical Christmas manger scene, but on a much larger scale. Although it remains an integral part of the local Christmas folklore, in its modern manifestations Caganer has evolved beyond his traditional garb, and now takes the form of famous personalities from around the globe. Pick one up from one of the specialised caganer stalls at the market in front of Barcelona Cathedral – a perfect momento of one of the beautiful idiosyncrasies that make BCN different!
(c) 2008 Valerie Hinojosa, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)
Continuing with faecal-themed Christmas traditions, the Tió de Nadal, also known simply as Tió or Caga Tió, is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a unique Christmas tradition. Historically a hollow log measuring around thirty centimetres long, the tió now stands tall on two or four stick legs, with a smiling painted face, a three-dimensional nose, and a small replica barretina.
Turning now to the tradition, on the 8th of December the tió is laid out, and usually covered with a blanket to keep it warm. Every night leading up to Christmas, the children must take good care of the log, feeding it and keeping it warm. Why, you might ask? Well, the answer is so that on Christmas Day the log will cooperate, and defecate presents! In some households, the parents periodically replace the tió with a larger tió, to give the impression that the tió is being fattened up before he delivers his precious load.
On Christmas Eve, the tradition culminates in a special performance. After weeks of loving and nurturing Caga Tió, children gather round the log, armed with sticks, and proceed to beat it while singing songs of Tio de Nadal. For example:
Avellanes I mató,
Si no cagues bé
Et daré un cop de bastó,
This loosely translates to:
Shit nougat (turrón)
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
Like most Christmas traditions, the unsuspecting children are totally oblivious to the fact that they have been duped by their parents, who have already hidden sweets, nuts and turrón under his blanket. At the end of the song, the veil is lifted, revealing an array of delicious snacks left for the children by Caga Tió’s generous gut.
Looking for other ways to celebrate the festive period? We’ve got you covered:
All Those Food Market Navidad
10th and 11th December
All those food market is organizing a second special edition for Christmas this year. Enjoy the live music, workshops for adults and last but definitely not least; all the delicious Christmas-themed food.
Seminari Conciliar de Barcelona
Diputación 231 (Metro Universidad)
Entry is 2€
10th and 11th December
Meet makers and creators and buy local. Discover unique and delicious foods and drinks and get to know more about hand-crafted products or produced in small quantities in local factories.
Museu Maritim Barcelona
Av. de les Drassanes (Metro Drassanes)
Entry is 2€
Young arts Carmel market
The best Christmas gift ... art! Mercad d'art is a special mention to all the emerging young talents where they will expose and sell they innovative products on the side paths of the City of Counts. A magical day filled with music, shows, drawings, illustrations, graffiti and so much more!
Rambla del Carmel 2(metro Horta)
Lost and Found
17th and 18th December
The place where old products become new again. Lost&Found is the market for selling, buying and exchanging second-hand objects. Find items, listen to the music, dance and take part of a different way of citizen interaction.
Pg. Joan de Borbó Plaza del mar
New Year’s Eve
The official party starts at 11pm next to Montjuïcs Magic Fountain where you can enjoy the 'son et lumière'show. The Castellers de Sants human towers group will make a huge human tower building. Concerts, music, fireworks and the Magic Fountain light and water display cannot be missed as Barcelona welcomes 2017!