Hello Eclectic World!
Thank you to everyone who has followed me thus far and huge shout-out to all of my new followers. I see y’all! Currently, I am in northern Spain, Blanes to be exact, in the Catalonia (Catalunya in the native language) region, an area known for cliff-side beaches, beautiful picturesque scenes of nature and for having strong community ties to its Catalan culture. Some 500 years ago Catalonia was a separate country from Spain and actually today, many of the citizens of the area would like to become a separate entity again. The Catalan flag flies proudly on many balconies and buildings across the villages in this area. I find the passionate cultural ties very unique and telling about the people here.
Their culture will certainly never be buried and due to their intense feelings will always be displayed with diligence and fervor.
I love it!
Today, I learned a little bit more about the Catalan culture when I traveled to Amer, Girona. There was an annual festival going on known as “La Castanyada,” or “Chestnut Party.” Here in the tiny square of Amer’s town center, families and friends come together to celebrate and honor their saints and other deceased ancestors. This means, I was able to enjoy dozens of vendors selling roasted chestnuts (literally chestnuts were roasting on an open fire, I thought it was hilarious), fried balls of dough sprinkled with sugar (can you say, yum?!), pastries, meats and cheeses of all varieties and of course, wine. There were also many local vendors selling hand-made wooden toys, embroidered pillows, wool scarves and other crafts. It is enriching to see that, despite it being such a small village and maybe little-known celebration, the community is heavily involved in the festival from partaking to providing the food/entertainment offered.
Here are two of my most interesting take-aways from the day that led me to believe Catalunya is the sh*t (you will see what I mean):
Caganers, figurines that appear to be taking a sh*t, are an honor; no joke!
- So, I learned that during the holidays when the Catalan people set up their nativity scenes there is always a shepherd in it that is in the squatting position, pants down ready to drop a big load. No, seriously! I’m not bullsh*tting ya (I could go on with the puns here). I saw the figurines being sold myself. Apparently, this is simply part of the tradition as he is fertilizing the ground in order to harvest a prosperous new year. In fact, if you are anyone worth knowing you will also have a figurine of yourself as it is a well-known phenomenon here. For example, there are figurines featuring Shakira, Putin and even Barack Obama. I didn’t get a chance to snap my own pic but here is one from the Caganer.com website where there are loads of them (hahaha, tired of me yet?):
Tió de Nadal: The Poop Log
2. These wooden logs with faces on them are also a longstanding holiday tradition. Apparently, families will have a Tió like this in their house each year for the Christmas holiday. On Dec. 8 up until Christmas Eve, families are to feed the log each night with cookies, fruits, etc. and the next morning the food will be eaten and gone. On Dec. 24, the log is covered with a blanket and it is officially time to hit the “poop log” with sticks while singing the traditional Tió de Nadal song (I will spare you the lyrics but please google). After the song, the children will go into another room and pray while “magically” the Tió “poops” out candies and gifts. HAHAHA, I can’t make this stuff up if I wanted to. Very interesting tradition! What’s up with the poop trend in Catalan though? I don’t know…
However, I think it is amazing that such strong traditions around poop live on to this day! I have learned about some interesting cultures in my journeys but never one quite like this. I can’t wait to see what else I will discover.