Monday, January 07, 2008

Christmas Around the World: Macarroni Angels, Olentzeros Instead of Noel and Presents inside Trees

Naples, Italy
Napolitani say that during harsh times, they traditionally made angels out of different types of pasta found around the house. Then, they offered these pasta angels to their friends during Christmas time.

Those who received the pasta angels wrote a wish in a piece of paper, which they placed inside the body of the angel so it could “fly away” and make the wish come true. Afterwards many people used these cute presents to decorate their Christmas tree.

Vasque Region, Spain

In the Vasque region, Christmas’ symbol is not Santa Claus as in most Christian cities, but the Olentzero, a chimney-sweeper with beret, overalls, crossed sandals and a chequered hankerchief tied in his neck.

Catalunya, Spain

On the other hand, catalans place their Christmas presents inside a tree trunk with a painted face (also known as “tronc”, “soca”, and “tió”).

On Christmas Eve, each child rinses a stick with “magic water” in a room, and after adults give them permission, they enter the room where the tree trunk is placed and hit it as they sing a song in catalan to free the presents hidden inside the tree.

According to Pamela from the translated version of the song reads something like (the translation puzzles me, so if someone can/may, please verify the translation is correct):

“Tree trunk, Christmas tree trunk

Shit culin

And pee white wine.

Don’t shit zool herring, that is salty

Shit culins that are really good.”

Interestingly, the tree only liberates one present at the time. So the children run back and forth from one room to the other to rinse their stick with “magic water” so they can hit the tree with it until it delivers an onion or a potato as an indication it will not deliver any more presents until the following year.

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