It is beggining to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go… Does it sound familiar? December is possibiliy the favourite month for the younger ones. Snow, presents, sweets, chocolates, holidays, and more! I would like to share with all of you some traditions of Spanish Christmas. The word “Navidad” comes from the Latin “Nativitas” which means “Birth”. On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, however it is unknow when Jesus was born exactly.
- The Spanish Nativity scene is called a Belén or Pesebre. This word means Bethlehem, since a Spanish Christmas scene includes the entire town of Bethlehem. Many homes, shops, offices and other buildings are decorated with the Nativity Scene.
- Caga Tió is a small log with a smiley face, wearing the traditional red Catalan hat – the Barretina. The name Caga Tió means ‘Poo Log’. This log will be feed between the 8th of December until Christmas Eve. On the 24th eve, children will cover him with a blanket and sing “Caga tió” song and await for their presents.
- The Caganer is a feature of the nativity scene that you only see in Catalonia. It is a figure of a Catalan man wearing traditional Catalan clothes. He is squatting with his trousers around his ankles and pooing! This may seem strange, but it is a custom from the 18th Century. His poo is seen as a sign of good luck as it fertilises the earth and ensures a good harvest for the coming year.
- La Nochebuena (Christmas eve ) is celebrated and is perhaps the most popular dinner over Christmas. It is a perfect day for meeting family and special ones. A large meal is served and Spanish families sing along Villancicos (Christmas Carols) and play the tambourine.
- On the 25th December Christmas is celebrated with meal and if possible everyone has their own present. In some parts of Spain “Papá Noel” is coming however in Catalonia we tend to celebrate “Caga tió”. Actually it depends on the family so there is not a established rule.
- On the 26th December is called “Sant Esteve” which is only celebrated in Catalonia, we could say it is the equivalent to Boxing Day. On this day we meet our relatives again and have a meal all together.
- The last day of the year we say goodbye to the year by having 12 grapes after each bell at midnight. Also a glass of cava is taken. Grapes and cava means good luck and best wishes for the new coming year.
- The 1st of January families meet up and have new year’s meal.
- The magic night of the year is the 5th January when the 3 wise men (Magic Kings) come to each home and leave presents for all good children in the world. The naughty ones receives sweet coal.
- Finally 6th January the children open up their presents and have the traditionally cake called Roscón de Reyes which is a Cake with 2 little surprises in it: a ceramic litte figure of a king and a bean. The traditions says that the one who gets the king will be crown king/queen of the house and the one getting bean must pay for the cake.
We have a range of recipes and traditional food over Christmas. Such as: turrón, mazapán, polvorón, mantecado, roscón de Reyes, escudella i carn d’olla, la zarzuela de pescado, neules, cava, among others!