Huge crowds gathered yesterday on the streets of Barcelona to demand autonomy for Catalonia. Police estimated that 1.5 million people protested. [more inside]
No Nativity scene is complete without the caganer - a figure caught in the act of taking a dump near the manger. (NSFW tag, ahoy!) The figurine (whose name translates as "the shitter") is an addition to the Nativity tableaus in the Catalonia region of Spain. Some interpret the caganer as a reminder that God can arrive on earth at any moment - and he doesn't care if he catches you with your britches down. [more inside]
The building of Castells, or human towers, is a tradition from Catalonia, going back to the end of the 18th century, starting in Valls. About a month ago, the annual Concurs de Castells took place in Tarragona, with groups of castellers competing to make taller and more complex towers. This video is a well-shot glimpse at the tower building, deconstruction, and some tumbles, possibly from the 2010 gathering. Via Kuriositas, which has more photos. [more inside]
Catalonia bans bullfighting. Via The NYTimes "Lawmakers in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting on Wednesday, dealing the most significant blow so far to a tradition considered by many Spaniards to be an essential part of their cultural patrimony. In many ways, however, the ban reflected less on the animal rights than on a political debate over Catalan identity and a push by local parties for greater independence from the rest of Spain. With the strong support of separatist parties, the ban passed by a larger margin than expected: 68 to 55, with 9 abstentions. It is to go into effect in 2012." [more inside]
Defecating figurines are part of the holiday fun in Spain's Catalonia region... How was this tradition started?