Christmas in Barcelona – that basically means sun, sea and temperatures above freeze point. For those who do not need a ‘White Christmas‘ the holidays can be spent with usually nice weather at the Mediterranean. Although weather is not always nice in deepest winter – it sometimes rains a lot and you can encounter temperatures around 0°C at night-time. Combined with high humidity and badly isolated houses without central heating it sometimes feels colder than in Northern Europe. Even in Barcelona sometimes it can snow, but the snow never stays.
Christmas Eve and Twelfth Day
Christmas is celebrated a little different in Catalunya. The ‘Christmas Eve’ on December 24th is not that important – instead gifts are exchanged on Twelfth Day (January 6th). On the 24th people usually just meet for dinner with friends or go out. Although small presents might be given. During the pre-Christmas period decorations in the streets have sprouted up in recent years for touristy reasons. And bit by bit the Christmas tree at home is adapted.
The Caga Tío and the Caganer
A very – let’s say – interesting originality of a typical Catalan Christmas is the Caga Tío (shitting log). It is a (small) decorated wooden log which is put in people’s houses from December 8th and ‘fed’ and sheltered until Christmas Eve. The log even has a face painted on it. After beeing nourished enough, it is forced to defecate on Christmas Eve by hitting it with a stick. It is supposed to bring out small presents and sweets in this process.
In general Christmas in Catalonia is somehow connected to defecation. Even in the nativity scene, a little way from the Holy family, the Caganer (Shitter) is there pooing. This character is a traditional component of the Catalan christmas cult (approx. since the 17th century). The Caganer is depicted with lowered trousers and a big pile of poo on the floor underneath him. It is supposed to be an analogy to the circle of life and an allegory of relief. In the old days the Caganer used to depict a typical Catalan farmer, but today you will even find characters from Messi to Homer Simpson.