Christmas cribs around the world are adapted to local characteristics to express the idea that Jesus was born just next door. In sub-Saharan Africa all crib figures are black, in Peru they wear ponchos, in Catalonia, Spain, they wear a hat, which is called barretina. There are other local features apart from landscape and clothes that express local identity. Spain advertises to tourists "Spain is different" and Christmas traditions in Catalonia, Spain, are in fact surprising to people who hear of it the first time: the nativity scene contains a guy who defecates.
The Catalan obsession with scatology is baffling to visitors from outside of Catalonia. It's a Catalan tradition to put a caganer (literally pooper) next to the crib, a guy who poops. Usually a bit hidden, the caganer can be a shepherd or some famous football players like Messi, Henry, a members of the Spanish royal family, or anybody who achieved some fame during the year.
|Image by SantiMB via Flickr|
Catalans find a tree trunk in the woods (it's also sold), the Christmas Log (Tió de Nadal). This trunk gets a face painted on and is wrapped in a blanket.
During the days before Christmas the tree is fed and looked after with care. Then the 24th, 25th, or 26th of December, after singing or praying, little children take a stick and say a rhyme, for example the following one:
que si no, et donarem,
un cop de bastó.
This can be translated as Poop trunk, poop turron, because if you don't, we'll hit you with the stick.
After that they get the presents from below the blanket.
You might also want to read about German Christmas traditions. Happy Christmas and Bon Nadal to everyone. What do you think about Catalan Christmas traditions? Do you know about other curious traditions? Please vote this post up if you like it and leave a comment below for questions and suggestions.