dimarts, 24 de desembre de 2013

Christmas in Catalonia and England

 Our Nativity Scene.
Our Christmas Log

Aquest nadal ho passarem a Catalunya – crec que és només el tercer cop en 25 anys que veig un nadal català. El fet és que normalment anem a Anglaterra perquè (a) decanses de veritat només si marxes de casa, (b) és dels pocs moments a l’any quan podem veure la família anglesa, i (c) el nadal és una mica més bonic allí (per mi!).

Però, segur que aquest any ho passarem de meravella –ja tenim l’agenda plena d’activitats i moments socials, a més a més de les ganes de celebrar TOT.

Bé, m’han demanat que expliques una mica les diferencies entre un nadal català i un d’anglès. Recomano llegir el post tan en català com en anglès, perquè potser diré coses diferents.

En la meva experiència, el nadal comença molt més aviat a Anglaterra. Des d’octubre, la gent ja pensa en regals i les botigues en van plenes.

El temps. Allà sempre fa fred i el cel és gris. No neva gaira a la meva zona – Yorkshire – però algun any si, i els dies són molt curts. Si vols veure una mica de llum de dia, t’has de espavilar a matinar, i pensa que a partir de les 12 el sol ja va de baixa. Són dies per estar dins de casa, mirant un sense-fí de pel·lícules de nadal o estrenos de novetats de Disney etc.

A Anglaterra es menja molt, però aquí també. Potser fins i tot aquí es posa més emfasi en el menjar – al UK el dia de nadal, fem com un gran dinar de diumenge però amb quantitats doblats. El típic són el gall d’indi, “stuffing”, i moltes verdures fetes de diferents maneres. De primer, una sopa o un cocktail de gambes. I molts de postres, sobretot Christmas Pudding, que pot sortir cremant si ho fem bé (inundat amb cognac). Però, sigui com sigui, en una hora hem acabat i estem al sofa dormint.


A casa meva, la nit del 24 no fem res d’especial, com a molt bevem un licor més original i anem a dormir aviats. El 25 ens llevem aviat i trobem tots els regals baix l’arbre. Quan ja els hagim obert i muntat, i hem esmorzat, potser sortirem tots (menys la mare – ja se sap que li toca ...) a passejar, a escoltar musica pel carrer i/o a visitar algun tiet. Natros dinem entre l’una i les dos, només la família directa, i passem la tarde a casa jugant, mirant la tele, i dormint. De vegades venen tiets, iaios, o amics a l’hora de sopar (5 o 6) i fem entrepans del gall d’indi que ha sobrat i continuem jugant.

És bastant típic el dia 26 anar també a visitar els tiets i iaios que queden per a veure. De casa en casa, i a cada casa un got de jerez o una cervesa, o una tassa de te. A les cases que arribàvem a l’hora de dinar o sopar, pos, entrepans i snacks.

Que més? Si, el nadal potser una bona època per gastar diners. Però (a) no passa res per gastar si en tens (tampoc és que t’ho emportaràs a l’ataud), i (b) cada u és lliure de consumir tant o tant poc com vol – segur que hi ha famílies que no gasten tant en regals, i/o que pensen en altres aspectes del nadal.


Evidentment, sent anglesos, també es beu molt – però cada cop menys diria jo, degut als preus i una mica de sensibilització! Quan jo era un nen, recordo que mon pare en plegar de treballar el dia 24, ell i els amics anaven sempre directes al pub i no teníem mai ni idea de l’hora que arribaria a casa ni en quin estat. Quan li despertàvem el dia 25 a les 6 del matí, normalment es podia calcular com li havia anat ...


Lo que jo enyoraré aquest any, a banda de tot això – pos, lo dormir! Dormim molt més a Anglaterra!  A casa nostra estrany és la nit que anem a dormir més tard de les 10.30 :)
Per cert, jo he explico com un anglès que viu a Catalunya, però per a saber lo que diu una catalana que viu a Anglaterra, recomano visitar aquest blog!
.................
So, only the third Christmas we’ve spent in Catalonia in the last 25 years. Normally we go “back” to Yorkshire to see family and friends – and also because, let’s face it, you only really rest when you get away from it all. So, what’s a Catalan Christmas? Well, here’s my personal highly subjective view on a small town (Tortosa has a population of 35,000) Catalan festive season. I suppose life in the big city of Barcelona is more cosmopolitan and a mixed bag of Christmas festivities, but here in Tortosa it’s still relatively traditional.
Firstly, Christmas shopping and spending money is obviously common here but not to the extent that it is in England. The whole thing doesn’t really kick into action until December, whereas in England the shops are full of Christmas stuff from September onwards! Another example, today, the 23rd, the supermarkets opened at 9.15 as usual and the shops I wanted to go to didn’t open until 10 am, as usual!

The weather – contrary to popular belief it does get cold in Catalonia. All those British ex-pats emigrating here as you don’t need to spend money on central heating – well, you do! But, obviously it never gets as cold as England, and 90% of the time we get blue skies which is great (but not very Christmassy). Yesterday we were around 12º in the daytime, maybe 5º at night. I remember, though, having Christmas dinner outside on the verandah in 2003, at about 20º!
Catalans are not big on Father Christmas, although he has joined the party recently. A more traditional and common activity is the “Christmas log”. Families search for these logs in the forest (or in a supermarket if you live in a city). They then cover them with blankets to keep them warm and spend the days before Christmas feeding the log mandarin peel or carob beans. Kids leave the food at night, and while they sleep, the log eats! Then, on Christmas Eve, the family gather around and take it in turns to hit the log with a stick while singing a song. One of the songs talks about hitting the log until it (literally) pisses white wine and shits sweets and treats. And yes, the log does sh*t little presents for all the family. You continue beating it and looking under the blanket until the poor log has nothing more to give up and merely excretes a toilet roll (or an onion). 

Which brings us on to the typical tradition of setting up a nativity scene at home. You can buy or make all the necessary elements – the barn, animals, chief characters, flora and fauna etc. Even atheists like ourselves do it! However, the most surprising element for a non-Catalan is to see one of the ever-present characters, the “crapper” – el caganer. A guy who has been taken short at just the wrong moment, and while Baby Jesus is being born, he’s hiding behind the bushes having a cr*p!

As you’re beginning to see, the Catalans are a very scatological people with what I’d call a toilet sense of humour – in fact I only discovered the word “scatological” when I first came to Catalonia and read am English book explaining Catalan customs and character.
Here’s Stephen Fry on the subject, and the following song is a Christmassy song devoted to the “caganer”.

 Which neatly links to another aspect; for me, Christmas in England is music – Christmas songs, modern and traditional, everywhere you go, radio, TV, shops, people’s houses. It’s a significantly less present aspect of the Catalan Christmas, although some shops seem to have cottoned on to the idea that if you pipe festive tunes in to the customers, they may spend more!
Christmas Day and Boxing Day are usually taken up with big family meals – with all the family, and go on for hours. Food can be a sort of pasta shape soup, canalones, sea food, and so on. I’ll let you know more in a couple of days!
New Years’ Eve and the “Arrival of the Three Wise Men” are big events, also to be blogged about soon.
Having said all that, by coincidence today I’ve found an excellent blogpost by an “internet friend”, a Catalan who lives in England, who can explain Catalan customs much better than me – please visit her here :)
Bon nadal!

6 comentaris:

  1. The thing I love about blogging is that I learn something new every time I read a blog post ~but Brian, I think yours today gets the award!

    Toilet rolls and crappers ~ how will I ever think of Christmas now without this knowledge. Happy Catalonian Christmas to you.

    ResponElimina
  2. Thanks! I hope you could follow the post, it was written in a bit of a rush between all the other Christmas Eve hectic activities - plus I've gotten into the bad habit of not re-reading before I press "post". I can already think of things I should have mentioned - for example, the meaning of the "crapper", apparently it shows the humanity of this most magical moment in our history; the fact that God may be being born, but we are still human!
    Anyway, kids in bed now, and we're just waiting for Father Christmas to turn up :)
    Happy Christmas!!

    ResponElimina
  3. Very interesting Brian. Maybe next year I will find a log and bring it home to flagellate though I fear that as a result I might find myself sectioned under the Mental Health Act! I like the idea of "el caganer" - the crapper. Come to think of it "The Bible" never alludes to Jesus's lavatorial evacuations..."And lo, Jesus was much in need so he wenteth behind a thorn bush and there did mightily dumpeth and the glory of the Lord did shineth all around". And does anybody know what Jesus used in lieu of toilet paper? From one atheist to another, I hope you enjoy the rest of your Xmas hols. Must be nice not having to rush around and get back to Barnsley.

    ResponElimina
    Respostes
    1. Thanks. Yes, it' s been quite different this year - we're usually flying home in the 23rd or 24th and then rushing like madmen, helping Santa and Mr Amazon.com to get all the pressies ready. This year we've had time to get out and soak up the Christmas vibes and see people etc, as well as eating - a lot. When I've finished digesting, (and gone behind the manger ...), I'll get on with more Christmas posts.

      Elimina
  4. This was weirdly wonderful to read! Our whole family has now read it and watched Mr Fry elaborate. Just what we need at Christmas - some laughter and some humanity.

    ResponElimina
    Respostes
    1. I know, it always amazes my non-Catalan friends and family, the log and "crapper" figure! You know how I feel about 4-letter words, but it's difficult to explain the Catalan character without delving into the deep dark side .... (apart from the Christmas traditions, their are loads of other expressions and jokes etc relating to bodily functions!).
      Hope your Christmas is going well!!

      Elimina