Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Have yourself a crappy little Christmas

Today is my last day in Madrid and this evening I'm off to the UK for 6 days, followed by another 6 in Istanbul - it has been the looongest wait for this break. Not that it'll be an acitivity-free fortnight; I've signed myself up to do some freelance writing and will need to put a good couple of hours aside each day to do that, plus an hour of rehab (something I want to get back into in a serious way over the holidays); I'm hoping to motivate myself to do these activities using the tried and tested kitchen-timer method... basically set it for an hour at a time, knowing the relief I will feel when that buzzer goes off is something of a motivator and forces me to concentrate more work into that time span. Just thought I'd mention the results of the survey I put up to ask what people's favourite cold weather activity was. Number one was making bowls of hot soup and cookies (if any of my friend have made either of these foodstuffs without inviting me round you're in trouble ;-))... Now, in my imaginary world of being Nigella Lawson making soup is also my favourite winter activity, but living alone with no-one to say 'thank you Nadya, that pumpkin and bacon soup was delicious, you're such a good cook, perhaps the best' this activity is definitely superceded by activity 2; curling up with a good book - or, as is often the case, curling up with my laptop, which is about the size of the book and has the added advantage of keeping me warm in my central Madrid igloo.

Anyway, I digress... I feel I cannot let this Christmas go by without mentioning the curious Catalan relationship between Christmas and poo. One part of the crapmas-connection is the tradition of having a figurine of a red-hatted pooing peasant, or caganer,  in the a nativity scene that adorns most Spanish living room at Christmas time.  For the linguists amongst you, cagar means to poo. I believe this man is meant to represent fertilising the land (why on Earth he couldn't have just used compost is a mystery to me!). Part two of the shitty shennanigans is that instead of using a shoe as a vessel for Santa to leave children's gifts in as is traditional in the rest if the country, they have a caga tió basically a log with a face on one end often wearing a little red hat (barretina) or blanket to keep warm. This cheerfyl little chap is 'fed' on a daily basis and on Christmas day is beaten with a stick (to the rhythm of the caga tió song) until he 'poops' presents.
Here is a translation of one of the caga tió songs:
caga tió,

tió de Nadal,
no caguis arengades,
que són massa salades
caga torrons
que són més bons!"

poop log,
log of Christmas,
don't poop herrings,
which are too salty,
poop turrón
which is much better!

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