Barcelona Christmas Market

15 Dec

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We couldn’t resist the lure of Barcelona when Bill and Lois said they were planning on going and somehow managed to gatecrash their plans. The particular attraction at this time of year was a Christmas market – for me, anyway, Neil not being quite so keen on anything suggestive of shopping.

Officially it’s the Fira de Santa Llúcia, not a Christmas market of the popular Germanic style but one dedicated to the nativity scenes and Christmas traditions of Catalonia. These are pretty weird, it has to be said but, hey, we tell our kids that a fat man in a red suit will come down the chimney.

 In Catalonia they’re expected to believe in the Caga Tio, the sh**ing log. At one time this was literally a log in the fireplace that gave heat and light. Nowadays it sh**s presents. With a smiling face and  wearing a traditional hat, it is kept in the kitchen or dining room where the children have to look after it in the days leading up to Christmas, feeding it and covering it in a blanket at night. Come Christmas Eve for some reason the children then turn on it and beat it before rushing into another room to pray. This gives the adults the opportunity to slip some presents under Caga Tio’s blanket and hey presto!

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But it doesn’t stop there. What I didn’t mention in the previous post is that each nativity scene has a “caganer”. You may be able to guess what this figure is doing. Oh yes, along with the wise men and baby Jesus, hidden somewhere in the scene will be a figure, again wearing the traditional Catalán hat, squatting with his trousers round his ankles, defecating. Why? Some say it is a symbol of fertilizing the ground, others that it represents that we are all equal (everybody does it). The latter idea seems to have taken off in recent years with the caganer often depicted as someone famous: a pop star, a politician or maybe a striker for Barcelona. Most of the world leaders are for sale (not Cameron for some reason – draw your own conclusions) as well as religious leaders and members of the British royal family. I can see the attraction. 

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