Barcelona boasts some extremely unusual Catalan Christmas traditions. Read more to find out what you can expect during a visit over the festive season in the Catalan capital.
The Caga Tió (pooing log) or Tió de Nadal (Christmas log) is a widespread Catalan Christmas tradition. It comprises a wooden log, traditionally measuring 30 centimetres long, stood up on two little legs. Caga Tió often bears a broad smiling face and wears a little red hat (similar to the Catalan barretina).
Children look after the log from the 8th of December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), even covering it with a red blanket to keep it warm at night, until Christmas Eve when Catalan children will sing the “Caga Tió” song whilst hitting it with a stick to get the log to “poo” some presents for them. The song ends with “Caga Tió!” (meaning poo log!) upon which someone reaches under the blanket for the presents that the log has pooed. It may appear an odd Christmas tradition in Catalonia but the children love it.
For your very own Caga Tió, head to any one of the Barcelona Christmas Markets where you will find them sold in abundance!
El Pessebre de Nadal
Els Pessebres (Nativity Scenes) are set up in Barcelona over the festive season and come complete with palm trees, Mary, the infant Jesus in his crib, and Joseph, as well as the shepherds, and the Three Wise Men. They can also be found in churches and the homes of Catalan families however, the most impressive Pessebre can be admired on Plaça Sant Jaume in the Gothic Quarter from December. Hidden amongst the religious figures you will also find the Caganer.
El Caganer (Christmas Crapper) is another quaint Catalan Christmas tradition. It comprises a squatting figure (buttocks exposed) of a farmer wearing a barretina, often smoking a cigarette or pipe. This odd little fellow is often hidden in the lovely nativity scenes set up around Barcelona centre and the neighbouring districts. Although, the origin of the Christmas Caganer is unclear, it is believed that it entered the nativity scene during the Baroque period in the 18th century. The Caganer is usually placed in a discrete location out of respect for the nativity scene and so that children can entertain themselves looking for him. These cheeky little characters can also be found at the Christmas markets in Barcelona if you seek an authentic Catalan nativity scene for your home.
L´home dels Nassos
L´home dels Nassos or the “the Man of Noses” is mythical character in Catalan legend. His name derives from the many noses on his face, corresponding to one for each day of the year that remains. Children are thus led to believe that there is really a man with 365 noses. The L´home dels Nassos traditionally roams the street on New Year’s Eve in Barcelona, known as the Dia de San Silvestre (Day of San Silvestre), handing out sweets to children. Given that it is the last day of the year the L´home dels Nassos conveniently only has one nose. In Barcelona you will recognise him as a figure with a papier-mâché mask bearing a huge nose.
So, now you know! If you’re planning to celebrate this Christmas in Barcelona then don’t forget your Caga Tió otherwise you won’t get any presents. Bon Nadal!