Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Cataluyna: Caga-tios and Xmas Fun!

Christmas in Catalunya (Catalonia) is definitely different to the Canadian  (click here) or British experiences in Oxford, London, and the Cotswalds (click here, here and here) I've had the past few years, or even the first Christmas blog post I had in Singapore (here). The weather here in Barcelona is beautiful - it's like a Canadian autumn, or a British autumn minus the rain!  The streets are lit up, although not as much as London. In fact, Barcelona at Christmas is quite empty

Caga-tios & Mangers


Cagatios - bcn.cat
The strangest and funniest tradition I have heard of is the Catalonia's Caga-Tio  (the crapping uncle). Basically, it's a wooden log that parents fill with small toys and candies (like a stocking). Kids "feed" the uncle by leaving him food and then have to beat the "uncle" every day with a stick until he "craps out" toys. Bizzare, huh?!

Traditionally, they don't have Santa Claus here. Instead, the Reyes Magis (the 3 Kings that brought Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh) show up on January 6th and give kids presents instead. They even sit on their laps at the mall and tell them what they want for January 6th!

The Catalonians also LOVE their mangers - in the centre of the city, they have a massive one, but that display was also taken down just before Christmas! My Spanish teachers told me that every household normally has one in their entrance hallway, too. 

Unfortunately, I didn't realise that the Christmas market in Barcelona only ran until December 23rd - so we just missed it. I guess I'll have to buy my caga-tio and my manger next year!  



The Caga-tio at the school I teach After-School English at





Placa Espana



Christmas Dinner

Sean is visiting for Christmas (from Paris) ! To make another unexpected "Singapore connection" to my blog, one of our friends, Kristin (who was in Singapore with us) has a friend, Christian, who happened to be in Barcelona for the week.  He joined us for a lovely couple tapas dinners out at my favourite places - El Nou Ramonet and Bar Jaica  - and  also for Christmas Day Dinner at our place. Thanks for joining us, Christian - it was fun!

Christmas Eve was also interesting, as we walked around the Gothic area before finally finding a cafe that was open late enough for us to hang out there until Midnight Mass at a cathedral called Catedral de Barcelona in Citutat Vella (the old city). The music was beautiful - but I wish the Mass  would have been in Spanish, not Catalan (then at least I could have understood  my very first mass experience!) Check out the GIANT Bailey's (and lattes - beer for Christian!) we had before Mass :)


Christian, Sean, Sapna

















Bailey's before Mass!


Santa pup!
Other than that, I've mostly been avoiding my PhD work (oops!), enjoying the Christmas spirit, spending time with Kiara, running errands and super-cleaning my house (Thanks, Sean!).  We don't have too many plans for New Year's Eve tomorrow, but hopefully we'll figure something out. Stay tuned for New Year's Eve in Barcelona (with a very interesting grape-related tradition!), and a New Year's Day winery tour! 

Merry Christmas, everyone!