A Catalan Christmas

DSCF0535When I think of Christmas, my mind turns to a big fat Santa, a school nativity play, roast turkey and mince pies, a decorated tree with colourful gifts underneath and the Queen’s speech at 3pm.

In Catalonia, they do things a little differently. As I passed through the region and stumbled upon Christmas fairs, I wondered why there were so many funny looking logs for sale. These cute little wooden beings with red hats and noses are called Tios. Children are supposed to feed them during advent and on Christmas Eve they then beat the Tio to make it defecate presents. Outside Barcelona Cathedral I saw lines of tiny children approaching a huge Tio to be rewarded with a lollipop from its backside!

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Meanwhile, in most Spanish towns you will find a Belen, a nativity scene, and most Spanish families will have a smaller version in their homes. I have always enjoyed visiting a Belen and especially trying to spot the local influences and the more unusual characters.

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DSCF0489Sometimes there is a woman falling down the stairs with a basket of eggs, and I have also seen a mother breastfeeding, but my favourite has to be the man, caught with his trousers round his ankles, having a shit. He’s known in Catalonia as the Caganer and is traditionally dressed as a Catalan peasant in a red hat, white shirt and black trousers. However, in the 21st century he has now been replaced by famous politicians, celebrities and sports stars.

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