dimecres, 1 de gener de 2014

Catalan and English traditions at Christmas-time (part 3)

Tercer part de la fascinant trilologia sobre nadals i altres festes a Anglaterra o Catalunya.

Ahir, dia 31, era el dia del “Home dels nassos”, un costum que jo només coneixia a Catalunya – fins ahir, quan 3 persones diferents del nort d’Anglaterra em van dir que els seus iaios o pares també els contava l’historia fa anys. Hmmm, haurem d’investigar.

Bé, ja us vaig dir en el post anterior, passat l’u de gener, els anglesos tornen a la normalidad. A la feina i a l’escola. No hi ha celebració el dia 6 de gener, però si que deuen haver serveis religioses ja que la llegenda ens diu que és el dia que els reis mags van arribar a Belen. La tradició dicta que no s’ha de desmuntar l’arbre ni treure els decorats de nadal fins aquest dia – però la majoria de gent ho fa el mateix dia que tornen a treballar o a classe.
So, part 3 of the fascinating “Christmas and other traditions in Catalonia and England” series of blogposts. In the previous “New year” post, I forgot to mention the story of “the nose man” – on the 31st of December, Catalan kids are told to look out for a man who “has as many noses as days in this year” .... get it?! Here he is – but you can also see him (or her) by looking in a mirror. I thought this was a specific Catalan thing but Lo and Behold, yesterday (through the magic of internet social networks) three different people from the north of England said that their parents or grandparents had told them the same story!
So, if there are any “international” followers reading this:
1.       Do you tell this story to kids in your country/region?
2.       And specifically for any English folk – is it just a northern thing? Was it a typical tale in the past (question for the older readers!) which has now been forgotten or pushed aside by the magic of electronic games and the cynicism of the 21st century?

Right, having made it past New Year, Catalans now get ready for the next big event – the 5th/6th January. As the Bible and Charlton Heston explain, the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem with their gifts on the night of the 5th January. So, Catalans and Spaniards usually take this as their Big Present-giving Day. Many kids get their presents from the Wise Men, and not Father Christmas. 20 years ago, 100% of gifts came this way, but now (thanks to Hollywood and shops out to make more money) traditions have “evolved” and many kids get presents on both the 25th December and the 5th January.
On the evening of the 5th, the Wise Men (know literally here as the “Three Magic Kings”) roll up and parade through town on camels (or tractor-pulled floats, depending on their budget), followed by hundreds of masked helpers playing music, putting on a show (think Disney parade), and carrying gifts. People actually know the names of the Wise Men – Balthazar, Meclhior and Caspar. Apparently two are white or Asian, and one black, due to their countries of origin but I can never remember which is which. Kids throng the streets to see the parade and then rush home to find that the Wise Men have already been to their houses and left them gifts – if they’ve been good. If they’ve been naughty, they get a piece of coal! The Wise Men have a lot of work on and don’t get to some houses till the early hours of the 6th – for example, in our house, where our kids find their presents (or coal) on the morning of the 6th. The 6th January is a public holiday with – you guessed it – a huge family meal. Following that, things start to open up again in the 7th and schools on the 8th (allowing the kids an extra day to play – poor creatures, having waited through all the Christmas holidays, they only get their presents 2 days before school!).

3 comentaris:

  1. I think I like the idea of living somewhere where there is a national tradition to these celebrations. I have really enjoyed reading about your traditions this year Brian. Thank you.

  2. Why should there be different ways of celebrating Christmas? "The Bible" should have included instructions for celebrating Baby Jesus's birth instead of allowing different countries free rein. But like Carol above, I have found it interesting to learn about Catalan Xmas traditions.

  3. Carol and YP, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading them and, maybe, finding out something new. Let's not forget that the whole Jesus, Papa Nöel, etc (and whatever Muslims, Jews, Buddhists celebrate at this time of year) are probably just add-ons to a "fiesta" that has been in existence since the dawn of mankind, or at least when the first man/woman realised that the 25th (or should I say 21st) December was actually the dead of winter and why not put on a party to celebrate it - or put a few logs on the fire and drag a few cavewomen/men in to show them a good time ... but, as you say, it's interesting how each country has taken the celebration in a different direction.