I know writing a Thanksgiving blog is a bit late, but now that I think I’m Spanish I can get away with it. I’ll go ahead and make this a holiday blog in general, so it doesn’t look too bad. Not to mention, us Jews are partial to “Happy Holidays” versus the individualized “Merry Xmas” or “Happy Chanukkah”.
It’s pretty obvious the holiday season has arrived; just ask my sister. Since Europe doesn’t celebrate the massacre of Native Americans, (which Americans take as a cue to start dragging down the Xmas lights from the attic) they put up their Christmas lights at the beginning of November. That means I’ve already been able to enjoy holiday festivities in Paris, London, and Barcelona. Since no one lives in houses here, the Christmas lights are put up by the city…they are in the placas and hanging across streets and in the trees. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Since I am American and all, I’ll back track for a second and explain my Thanksgiving celebration abroad. Most American students used Thanksgiving weekend as an excuse to jet off for another country. Those who didn’t travel were busy entertaining guests. (A lot of families visited for Thanksgiving). Basically that meant that four of my roommates were in Italy, a few other friends were in Paris, and the rest were in Barcelona with their families…ie I was all alone. That sounds pretty dramatic; it wasn’t that bad. The appropriate thing to do would have been to invite myself to a Thanksgiving dinner with one of my friends’ families, but I decided self-loathing was a better idea. I cooked eggs, whined to family, and watched the entire season of Grey’s Anatomy online. But let’s get real, I live in Barcelona. I can’t exactly complain. And on Fridays I got the incredibly news of Angie and Louie’s engagement, so I’m going to say it was a great Thanksgiving.
So now back to the December holidays…
Today is the second day of Hanukkah. You would never know it in Spain, though. I don’t think they’re sure what Jews are. When I realized it was Hanukkah last night, I was a little bummed not to be eating delicious latkes. I didn’t have any fellow Jews to celebrate with, so I celebrated Hanukkah like any good Jew does on a holiday they don’t participate in…eat Chinese food and watch a movie.
While we were watching Sex and the City, we decided to light a candle hoping it would radiate some heat. I thought to myself, “I could improvise and pretend this is a menorah.” But what prayer to use? I mean, the three Hanukkah prayers would make sense. Then again, I could always go with Happy Birthday. Hanukkah is the birthday party for Jesus…..right??? I couldn’t decide, so I just didn’t bother.
Spain may be a Catholic nation, but they do have another important religion: Futbol Club Barcelona. Let me put this in perspective….When Spain won the world cup, 3 million people partied in the streets of Barcelona. When the Pope came to bless La Sagrada Familia, 250,000 stopped by on their lunch break to say hello.
On Monday night I had the wonderful experience of watching FC Barcelona crush Real Madrid. It was absolutely pathetic; 5-0. My friends and I pushed our way into a PACKED bar to watch. Spain doesn’t really believe in fire codes, so 100 people in a bar designed for 30 is not a problem. It was absolutely ridiculous and so much fun.
The great thing about being abroad for the holidays is I get to learn all of the different traditions. And let me tell you, Catalayuna has some interesting tradition. Catalunya has a tradition with a log, Caga Tio…this translates to mean: shit pooping log. Here’s how it works:
Catalans go out and buy a log, (like from a tree) and decorate it. They put a face on the front and stand it up on leg type stilts. On December 8, they set up Tio and begin to feed him every night. They also put a blanket over him so he doesn’t get cold. On Christmas morning, little kids beat up Tio with sticks to make him “poop” out gifts. (parents put gifts under the blanket). Fun, right???
This tradition seems absolutely crazy to me…There’s nothing Americans do that’s extremely bizarre on Christmas. Or so I thought. After contemplating our traditions for a while, I realized that ours are pretty ridiculous too.
As kids we are all taught not to get in the car with the man who needs help finding his puppy. And we definitely shouldn’t take candy from the guy in the white van with blacked out windows. BUT if a man breaks into our house in the middle of the night, we call him Santa Claus.