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Strange Christmas Traditions in Spain

Weird Things that Happen in Spain at Christmas

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The Spanish are famous for their bizarre festivals. Here are just a few weird traditions you might come across at Christmas time in Spain.

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1. Caganer

Image: Chris Hupp
A Catalonia specialty, the caganer is a little porcelain gnome-like figure with his trousers down who is seen defecating somewhere in the nativity scene. Children enjoy looking for the little guy, who is usually hidden among the more traditional items. Surprisingly not invented by the post-South Park generation - Caganer has been offering his unique presents to the nativity scene since at least the middle of the 18th or 19th century, depending on who you believe.

See a picture of some Caganers.

2. Caga Tió

Image: Chris Hupp
A log painted with a smiley face who is cared for from El Dia de Inmaculada (December 8) until Christmas. On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve (it varies), the children beat the log (and throw him into the fire) singing songs enticing it to 'shit some presents'. Also particular to the Catalonia region, who clearly didn't think that one scatalogical Christmas tradition was enough.

See a picture of a Caga Tio.

3. Multiple New Year's Eves

Rock band Wizard may well have wished it could be Christmas every day, but in Spain it seems to be multiple New Year's Eve that they long for. They already have six occasions to celebrate it, with the earliest (or latest) taking place in August!

Find out about the Multiple New Year's Eves in Spain.

4. Red Underwear Running

In the village of La Font de la Figuera near Valencia, the local folk celebrate the arrival of a new year by stripping down to their underwear and running through the streets. One important point if you are going to join in next year - the underwear must be read.

Read more: Red Underwear Running for New Year's Eve.

5. Day of the Innocents

Spain's version of April Fools Day, only it takes place on December 28. In days gone by, children used to go from door to door asking for sweets, much like our Halloween. Bakers used to put salt in their cakes on this day to wind up the children.

Most of this has now given way to more mundane activities like sticking paper cut-outs to peoples backs.

Read more about Santos Inocentes.

6. Flour Throwing at the Els Enfarinats Festival

The Day of the Innocents goes that bit more insane in Ibi, Valencia, where the inhabitants throw flour at each other to, erm, show how innocent they are, or something.

The Spanish love throwing things at each other - read about other Throwing Festivals in Spain.

7. Grape Eating at the Stroke of Midnight

If you're out in a public place in Spain on New Year's Eve, you will notice that everyone around you is carrying a handful of grapes. On the stroke of midnight, everyone will gobble them down - one for each gong of the bells. For each grape you get down, you will have a month's good luck in the coming year.

Read more about what to expect on New Year's Eve in Spain.

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