The run-up to Christmas is in full swing, so I thought it might be a good idea to show you some traditional things that people in Barcelona get to decorate their homes with. Ready? Come with me to the Fira de Santa Llúcia, which is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year, and is currently on in front of the cathedral! There are lots of different things for sale at this Christmas fair, but I only want to show that which is typically Catalan, so here goes…
Above, a stack of Tiós de Nadal, probably the most important element of Catalan Christmas celebrations. The ones in the image are rather fancy, but traditionally one would go to the countryside, bring home a log found in the woods and use it for celebratory purposes. The Tió is “fed” from the 8th of December until the arrival of Christmas, and on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, while singing a song, it is supposed to “shit” little presents, such as candy, dried figs, nuts, etc.
Christmas trees are also popular these days, although traditionally, the Spanish consider it more important to recreate the Nativity scene with a manger, figurines and landscaping. In Catalunya, this takes on a pastoral form, and placing a Masia (Catalan farmhouse) in the landscape is pretty much “de rigueur” . Thus, miniature versions (and also larger ones) are widely sold.
If you look closely at the above photo (you can view it enlarged if you click on it) you can see a couple of “caganers” on the 2nd row from the bottom. See what they are doing? They are defecating! This figure (and many other versions of it) is also one of the items traditionally placed in a nativity scene, which doesn’t just recreate the manger, but usually depicts large parts of Bethlehem. For the landscaping much use is made of moss and pieces of cork bark (below) which is grown around Catalunya.
Other than moss, pine sprigs and wreaths are also very popular, as well as branches of eucalyptus, which is currently in bloom, and which adds a lovely touch of colour (below).
Mistletoe is also readily available, but I suspect this is a tradition that has infiltrated local customs from abroad. Below, a couple of examples of caganers created in the image of famous personalities, among which one can find football players, politicians, royalty and pop stars, to name but a few….
How do you decorate your home at this time of year? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours!