dilluns, 30 de desembre de 2013

Christmas and New Year and so on, Catalonia/England (2) - with a bit of Prince

Més reflexions desordenades sobre aquests dies de festa ... el dia de nadal, el 26 de desembre és diu Boxing Day a Anglaterra, suposadament perquè era el dia que els rics donaven una caixa (a box) amb un regal als servents i/o als pobres. Tal com he dit en el post anterior, és típic aquell dia anar de visites a la família, o anar al pub. També hi ha gent que prefereix una llarga caminada per a gastar les calories del dia 25.

Però, pel que veig a les noticies, l’activitat més habitual avui en dia a Anglaterra és anar a les rebaixes! Cues enormes de gent pegant-se entre ells per a aconseguir una ganga. El tema de les botigues i les rebaixes està totalment liberalitzat a Anglaterra. Poden començar les rebaixes quan volen – algunes botigues comencen el dia 24. I els dies que obren també – durant l’any, la majoria de grans botigues sempre obren en diumenge – i al meu poble, l’any passat vaig vore que per primer cop van obrir el supermercat el dia de nadal.

Passat el 26, hi ha una pausa en la festa – per a continuar comprant – fins la nit del 31, quan, o surts als pubs a beure i cantar, o et quedes a casa mirant una tonteria a la tele i potser fent una copeta d’alguna cosa més forta. Però, per molta gent, no és la festa que era fa anys, i molta gent no fa res. A casa de mons pares, fa anys ja que fem algun joc o mirem la TV, però anem a dormir abans de les 12.

Un altra cosa que és evident és que aquí a Catalunya preneu el tema dels menjars molt més en serio – lo menjar sempre ha  de ser perfecte, i amb un cert grau de formalitat que a Anglaterra no tenim. Allí, els records de nadal normalment es basen en el nadal que vam menjar entrepans perquè el gall d’indi no s’havia descongelat. O l’any que vam cremar les verdures etc. També, típicament portem tots el típic sueter de nadal o els barrets de papa noel o banyes de ren.

Quan els anglesos surten al pub, normalment marxen de casa (a peu, perquè això si que tenen clar, no agafen el cotxe si han de beure – en general) en mini-falda, i samarreta de maniga curta etc per no haver de vigilar l’abric tota la nit. Veig que els catalans es vesteixen més apropriadament per les temperatures de l’hivern!

I ja està, no hi ha cap celebració el dia de reis. Un cop entrat l’any nou, la gent comença a tornar al treball i els xiquets al cole, normalment el dia 3 o 4.
So, making the most of the post-Xmas, pre-New Year lull, here’s another blog post. As I said previously, Catalans typically have great meals on the 24th, 25th and 26th , with different members of the family – usually with extended family, aunts, in-laws, you name it .... one big difference I’ve noticed is that although everyone has a really good time, the meals are much more formal affairs than the ones I’m used to back in England. Formal, in that the food has to be perfect and is planned and prepared for days in advance. No “frozen turkey” or “burnt sprouts” jokes here to remember Christmases-past. People tend to take the whole thing more seriously making sure the food and drinks are spot on perfect – and there’s no cracker jokes, reindeer hats, Christmas sweaters, or drunken grannies either :(
Oh, I’ve also found out that Catalans celebrate Boxing Day (St Stephen’s Day), but the Spaniards don’t – one more reason for independence!

I’ve also noticed that in England, even in sub-zero temperatures, people wander the streets from pub to pub in mini-skirts or short sleeved t-shirts. Catalans don’t. They dress appropriately for the winter temperatures.
In the middle of the Christmas week, the Catalans celebrate their version of “April Fools’ Day”, on the 28th. This was the day that, according to the Bible, Herod ordered all the infants to be slaughtered so as to make sure he’d do away with Baby Jesus. Apparently many parents used their wit and different tricks to hide their babies, and this is the origin of this day being a day to play tricks on each other.

Next on the calendar:  New Years’ Eve – this is a big event in Catalonia, celebrated once more with lots of food and drink. The English also drink plenty at major festivities but in my experience they’re happy to accompany the drink with a sandwich or a few cocktail sausages – Catalans aren’t. Food is first. Anyway, people either go out to restaurants or organised events, or hold grand meals at home – usually eating up till midnight at which time they eat 12 grapes, one with each chime of the midnight bells. Eating all 12 while the clock chimes 12, means good luck for the coming year. The party then usually continues until late, or early depending how you look at it.
Last but not least in this trilogy of posts will be coming soon – watch this space! Meanwhile, Happy New Year!!

4 comentaris:

  1. When Herod pitchforked the babies did he guffaw at the parents "Ha! Ha! April Fool!"? That would not have been very nice. Not nice at all. I didn't realise that King Herod was Catalonian. Was Prince his son? Bit of a twat that Prince. Not like our dear Prince William at all who was a frog until Miss Middleton (not Pippa) kissed him. I believe it is true that in Barnsley they push twelve satsumas into a different orifice when the last midnight bells of the year strike.

    1. One of the benefits of living in a country which still more or less bases its "special days" on religious themes, rather than the birth of Father Christmas or that Apple guy, is that it brings back all kinds of school-day memories. We went to see a village nativity play last Sunday and when Herod came on, I suddenly realised I'd forgotten all about the baby-killing part of the Christmas Tale - and would have been pressed to name Herod. Probably never heard of him since junior school .... anyway, it turns out Spain, Catalonia, and many Spain-invaded countries do the "December Fool" day. They call it the "Day of the Innocents" (Dia dels inocents), in reference to the babies who were (are) innocent.

      Yep, the Prince 1999 song sounds a bit outdated but I couldn't think what else to put on and it also brings back memories. In the Elsecar disco, the Birdcage, in the 80s they'd always put this song on on New Years' Eve, when everyone thought 1999 was a futuristic thing. Then I'd usually get thrown out when they came round asking our ages, but I'd drunk enough by then to be able to walk home in a t-shirt. Then the Birdcage burnt down in the late 80s. And the cinema (t' "bug-'ole") closed down. And the pit was long gone.

      Funnily enough Herod was not Catalan but there is a theory that Pontius Pilate was! Some say he was a Roman governer from Tarragona. Hence the (Spanish) theory that it was a Catalan who did away with Jesus!

      Not sure about the satsumas, but I do know a lass from Barnsley who does a fair trick with 12 black puddings on New Years' Eve ...

  2. Brian, when I first started blogging back in January, I met a lady in Marbella who blogged about the 12 Grapes tradition.


    I hope you have recovered enough from Christmas to enjoy New Year. I swear it was only yesterday that we had Christmas. Where did that last week go? All the very best for 2014.

    1. Hi, thanks for the link, very interesting - my wife's family always peel and de-pip their grapes in advance. It's my wife's chore today - 84 grapes, as there'll be seven of us at my mother-in-law's.
      Today's been really our first "quiet" day, after a week of family and friends visiting, eating, concerts, shows, shops, going out for a family "tapa" evening etc.
      So, Happy New Year, counting down the hours here now !