Madrid and Barcelona are very similar yet very different. You can read more on that here.
Some of the interesting differences when it comes to Christmas in Spain…
The most interesting difference (to me.) In Madrid, people are known to be traditionally VERY religious. VERY VERY Catholic. Christmas is about Jesus. Not about jolly old St Nick. It’s about spending time with family, not buying a shit ton of presents. But in Barcelona…
In Barcelona, the approach is the same as Madrid, minus the Jesus part. It’s about family time. But on the religious front… Although they have some of the MOST beautiful Catholic churches in the world (La Sagrada Familia goes without saying, or the Gothic Cathedral), generally speaking, they are less religious than their Madrileno counterparts.
Why? Apparently during Franco’s rule (the Spanish dictator), many religious figures had a lot of power. The Catalonians have wanted their independence. Many members of the party who had religious ties also were from Catalonia. But they didn’t make much of an effort to claim their independence from Spain when they could have. Once Franco’s rule ended, many Catalonians also turned against Catholicism and the powerful people with strong religious affiliations who didn’t help them claim their independence. Perhaps I didn’t explain it well, but that’s what I gather.
And as a result of this “loss of religion” there are many Catalonian jokes that belittle the Catholic religion.
A few strange Catalonian Christmas traditions
Little poopy guy
Nativity scenes are very popular in the rest of Spain. In Catalonia, they also have nativity scenes, but they add an interesting figure to their scene. Normally, you have baby Jesus, Jose (Joseph), the shepards, and Mary. In Catalonia, you can add a little guy who’s dropping a deuce in your nativity scene. Typically, these guys are someone from modern pop culture. For example…
This guy’s my favorite. So, you know good ole St. Nick who somehow smashes his undercarriage into each person’s chimney, leaving presents behind for all those nice kids? (You have to admit, our tradition is a bit odd too.)
There’s no jolly St. Nick in Catalonia. In Catalonia, they have something called “Caga Tio” – literally translated, that means “Uncle Shit.”
How do I explain… it’s so bizarre, but I’m sure you’ll find the humor in it.
This is a little log with two eyeballs, a Christmas hat, and two smaller sticks in the front, propping him up. The tradition goes…
Parents put the presents behind the log and cover them with a little red blanket. Children are given sticks, and they have to beat Caga Tio. They beat him and beat him until he poops himself (he poops presents.) Well, the parents pull off and reveal his glorious gifts.
I’d love a Catalonion’s input on this topic. I’m so confused as to where this came from and why it’s a thing. I love it though! Quirky and weird.