The Christmas lights are up all around the city, there’s an ice rink set up in one of the main plazas, Christmas markets are set up everywhere with good food, music, and decorations, and I’m stuck inside studying for finals! I did make it out of the apartment a few times though, and was able to walk around one of the main Christmas markets set up outside of the Cathedral. Vendors were selling everything from Christmas trees and mistletoe to nativity scenes and kids’ toys. Also a part of the Catalan tradition are “Caga Tios” or in English, literally a “shitting log”. Yes, you read that correctly. It is literally a piece of wood that “poops” out presents for children during the holiday season. A character with roots in Catalan mythology, “Caga Tio” is a log of wood propped up by two smaller sticks and covered with a red blanket of some sort. On Christmas day children sing songs and chants while beating the log with sticks. The harder you beat the log, the better. The log then “shits” out their presents under the red blanket (where the parents have placed presents before the beating of the log). As Christmas approaches, there are also festivals and parades in the streets, and there is a giant scale Caga Tio that makes an appearance as well. It’s definitely an interesting tradition, and even the Catalans I have met here laugh about their comical heritage.
Also along the lines of the Holidays, I attended a traditional Catholic mass at La Sagrada Familia. Religion is such a huge part of the culture here, so I wanted to go to church at least once in Barcelona before I left. And where better to go than one of the most famous Catholic churches on the planet? The service was held in one of the lower levels of the church- not the part that I had visited in my previous post, but it was just as stunning. The service was spoken all in Catalan, so it was difficult for me to follow along, but I did pick up a few words. I went with one of my roommates, Maggie, and we were by far the youngest people there from what I observed, but it was still a great experience overall.