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La Fira de Santa Llúcia: Santas, Brujas, Caganers, Caga Tiós y más - Chuck Fisher's LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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La Fira de Santa Llúcia: Santas, Brujas, Caganers, Caga Tiós y más [ Monday, 11 Dec 06 | 12:33 ]
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |nostalgicnostalgic]
[My Music |George Winston "December"]

The Fira de Santa Llúcia is a large seasonal craft fair in front of and around the Barcelona cathedral. There are probably two-hundred booths filled with everything from trees and other greenery, nativity scene figures, and artisan crafts such as weaving, jewelry and soap making.

I went last year and bought a couple of caganers (“shitters”) to start a collection—one for each year that I have spent Xmas here. (This year’s purchase will be the subject of a future post.) Here is a few of the many available. There is even a company that produces caganers using contemporary figures, mainly politicians and sports figures.

Mainly traditional caganers.

Christmas trees are probably not as popular here as in the States and they are smaller than the trees I remember. There are also wreathes and mistletoe, typically with berries. An interesting combination are these brujas or witches, some with mistletoe. Also note the patriotic nature of those that have ribbon in the form of the Senyera or Catalán flag (yellow and red stripes).

Patriotic witches.

Santa Claus is not Spanish or Catalán at all, he’s American. A more European figure is Papá Noel. He’s not as “robust” as Santa and often is smoking a pipe. Sometimes he wears the traditional Catalán hat called the barretina. But this is a modern adaptation.

People here often hang a Santa climbing up a rope or ladder from their roof or a window. Fireplaces aren’t as common here in Spain as in the States, so Santa has to climb through a window. Here’s a picture showing a few of the many styles that are available here.

Climbing Santas.

Along with caganers, the Caga Tió (“shit log”) is another Catalán tradition. They come in a variety of sizes. Alcampo, where I usually do my grocery shopping, has been selling them for a few weeks, so they definitely are popular and not just “traditional”.

Smaller Caga Tiós.

There is a giant Caga Tió that is used much like a department store or shopping mall Santa. I took a picture of it before there was long line of children waiting to beat some “shit” out of it. I´ll have more to say about this tradition in my next post.

A really big "shit log".

Finally, the most interesting thing for me at the Fira was an artisan who made jabon de Castila (Castile Soap) using olive oil as the basic ingredient. He had various varieties of hand-made soap with additions such as oatmeal and sesame oil. There were a number of pictures that showed how the process of how the soap was made and formed.


[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Monday, 11 Dec 06 | 19:49 (UTC)
Have you ever encountred the short story "Quieta Nit" from the Catalan author Pere Calders? (I read that it was recently performed as a theatre piece in Girona.) Pare Noel arrives with a bag of gifts and is firmly told by the lady of the house: "S'ha equivocat de casa. Aquí fem Reies."
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Monday, 11 Dec 06 | 21:56 (UTC)

"Quieta Nit"

No I haven't encountered the story. If you haven't already done so, check out this article:

The story Quieta Nit is supposed to be humorous, but with what I would consider to be political overtones. Pare Noel (Santa Claus) arrives bearing gifts and the lady of the house says that he has the wrong house and that the Three Kings comes there instead.

For those of you who aren't aware of Catalán politics or traditions, there are a number of people who are very "traditionalist" towards everything that is considered Catalán (or in some cases the Crown of Aragón). They also sometimes reject things that are thought to be "Spanish" (or the Crown of Castille).

Most of Spain exchanges gifts on January 6th and not on December 25th. The Three Kings/Reyes/Reis or the "Magi" are associated with the January date, whereas Santa Claus/Papá Noel/Pare Noel are connected to the December date. The ultra-traditionalists reject the Magi day and prefer gift exchanges on Xmas day.

My feeling is this much ado about nothing as the origin of the Santa Claus/Papá Noel/Pare Noel figure is not Catalán at all. Santa Claus is a variation of a Dutch folk tale based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas, a bishop from Myra in what is now Turkey. And the gift-giving date associated with this figure differs depending on the country.

And of course December 25th is a reused pagan/Roman holiday (winter solstice and saturnalia).

As far as children are concerned, the sooner they get to open their presents, the happier they are. You might say that I don't have much "Christmas spirit".

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[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 00:06 (UTC)
BTW, you know that the plural of tió is properly tions, right? (A final accented vowel in Catalan is generally a sign of a historical nasal ending. When the plural s is added, the dropped n reappears.)

My Catalan teacher told me that it's the tió, not Pare Noel, which is considered the most tradicionalista choice of a gift-giver. They used to be on the wane, but have made a tremendous comeback in recent decades. Being from a more rural area (i.e. near Vic), he always had a tió growing up.

I'm not sure what you're saying about the symbolism of these preferences. Their ultimate origin is really beside the pointl; it's the meaning that is invested in them in the here and now which gives them their importance.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 15:00 (UTC)
Actually I have very little knowledge of Catalá. Most of the signage here misspell the plural, probably because it is not prepared by native Catalán speakers.

The Caga Tió is the only "gift-giver" that is Catalán in origin. My friend Rubén tells me that nowadays it is reserved for giving small gifts.

My previous comments relate to the aversion of what I call super-nationalists to anything that comes from the rest of Spain (except of course from their "brothers" in Euskadi).

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