The Spanish have a few unique Christmas traditions that differ from those that we know in the rest of Europe.
From Pooping Logs to El Gordo National Lottery and huge nativity scenes to the post- Christmas Spanish Day of Fools. Here are a few Spanish Christmas traditions that you should get to know.
Caga Tió – The Pooing Log
A Christmas tradition unique to the Catalonia region is the Caga Tió, or pooping log. Essentially it is a piece of log, which has been adorned by adding small wooden legs, a face, a blanket and a barretina (Catalan hat). Children keep the Caga Tió in their homes or schools in the run up to Christmas and feed it small pieces of bread or orange peel each evening. Then, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, they hit the log with a stick, singing the Caga Tió song, asking him to poo out lots of turrón (a sweet nougat) and other sweets for them. Wired but kinda cute!!
Talking of Crappers!!….
Keep a look out for Christmas crappers (caganers), traditionally a crapping figure added to a Catalan crib. You can buy modern Christmas crappers depicting loads of famous faces, from Queen Elizabeth to Michael Jackson and of course there is a the complete set of politicians !
El Gordo . The Big Fat Lottery
The Spanish National Lottery is a HUGE deal at this time of the year, and almost everyone will buy a ticket, making it the biggest lottery draw in the world. This Lottery is so big that it was given the nickname ‘El Gordo’ or the ‘Fat One’, for obvious reasons. The draw takes place on December 22 and has been held every year since 1812. More information about El Gordo here.
Roscón de Reyes
Instead of Christmas cake or Christmas pudding, Spanish folk enjoy the Roscón de Reyes, usually on the Day of the Epiphany, January 6. A sweet bread ring, topped with crushed almonds and candied fruits and sometimes stuffed with cream. Usually, a small figurine is hidden inside the bread, and the person who finds it has the honour of buying next year’s roscón. Eat it with care!!!
The ‘Christmas log’ (Tió de Nadal) commonly referred to as the ‘pooing log’ is a famous part of Catalan mythology. Families ‘feed’ the log in the run up to Christmas then beat it with sticks while encouraging it to excrete the Christmas presents. Also keep a look out for Christmas crappers (caganers), traditionally a crapping figure added to a Catalan crib. You can buy modern Christmas crappers depicting an array of famous faces, from Queen Elizabeth to Lionel Messi to the complete set of Catalan politicians (pictured below).
Dia de los Santos Inocentes
December 28, a few days after Christmas, is the Dia de los Santos Inocentes. ….
This is the Spanish version of April Fool’s Day. A day for playing pranks, or dressing up in funny wigs and hats. Keep that date in mind 😉
The Three Kings
The Three Kings, or Reyes Magos (Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar), bring children their gifts in Spain, not Santa Claus (although Santa is becoming noticeably more popular over recent years) , and on January 6, not Christmas Day. On the night of January 5, the Kings parade through the towns across Spain with their fleet of helpers, animals and colourful floats, throwing goodies out for the children. When the children return home after the Kings have visited the town, they leave out their shoes to be filled with presents overnight.