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For Catalunya, one of the most beautiful places on earth, the pointy end of the year looks drastically different to the one we’re used to. In the Mediterranean oasis, the North Pole and the large jolly bearded man in the fur-trimmed suit don’t make much cultural sense, whilst ornaments in the act of defecating do. Ahead of our Catalan Christmas in July Dinner, we caught up with Melbourne Catalan Society’s, Daniel Castro, who was born and raised in Catalonia (and our guest speaker at the dinner), to find out how Christmas is celebrated in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Much like the traditional Christmas in Australia, it’s ALL about the leftovers. YES Mum, of course you should cook extra roast lamb and gravy – I intend on living off it for the foreseeable future. Traditionally, the people of Catalonia will use the leftover food from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to prepare canelons – cannelloni filled with the uneaten meat from the meal of 26th December (Sant Esteve) . The food traditions at Christmas in Catalonia, says Castro, don’t come from the rich but from the masses of humble people. The hero dish of Christmas day is soup “because it’s simple, delicious and able to stretch, with whatever’s left over going beautifully into the canelons. Unsurprisingly, the drink of the day, cava (Catalan sparkling), doesn’t make it into the ‘leftovers’ category. Check out the Catalan Christmas in July menu Jesse and Fisky pulled together for the dinner on July 25.
There’s a couple of funny things about Catalan Christmas you won’t find many other places, (or at Bomba). The first one is Caga Tio, which translates roughly to ‘poo log’ (pictured), and rears its hilarious head in early December. Caga tio is a small log with a big smile wearing the traditional red Catalan hat, the ‘Barretina’, which the children look after with warm blankets and nibbles of Turron until Christmas Eve. Why? On Christmas Eve after dinner, the children are given a stick and invited to belt the daylights out of Caga Tio while singing the Caga tio song, who poos out their dessert in the form of candy, chocolate and even sometimes small toys. Poor guy. Kind of like what you’d find in your stock standard stocking, yet much more amusing.
Catalan Christmas in July Dinner at Bomba with Melbourne Catalan Society. 6:30pm, Mon Jul 25.
This one is even better. Behold, the nativity scene ornament you never thought existed, the outrageous figure of the Caganer – a man in traditional Catalan dress, squatting with his trousers around his ankles, defecating in the stable. An essential and most popular element of Catalan nativity decoration, Caganer dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries when it was allegedly added as a symbol of good luck – his ‘offerings’ fertilize the ground and ensure a solid harvest for the year ahead. Today, however, Catalans commonly use the figurine satirically, with the models often found for sale in Christmas markets carrying the faces of celebrities, politicians and other public figures. Polticians defecating where they shouldn’t? No?
NO GIFTS ON CHRISTMAS DAY, AND IT’S NOT THE GRINCH’S FAULT
Don’t get us wrong, we’re ALL for gifts, but focusing on nothing but food and consuming it in extreme levels on December 24 and 25 is the greatest gift of all, and another reason to love the Catalans. In Catalonia, major gifts aren’t given on the 25th with the traditional day falling on January 6th, known as Dia dels Reis Mags, with the actual famous parades in the evening of January 5 (the day the Three Kings arrived in town, but we prefer our idea of a food-focused push).
No, all traditions might not transfer perfectly across to our culture down here in Melbourne, but one thing that translates perfectly is the festivity, fun and love for food the Catalans are so well known and welcomed to our place for. Book your seat to experience a Catalan Christmas in July here.
Catalan Christmas in July Dinner at Bomba with Melbourne Catalan Society
When: 6:30pm, Monday July 25