Do we poop presents in Latin America?

In Catalunya, every December 25th, kids wake up to a “Caga Tío”. It’s a log with a Santa Claus hat that goes next to the Christmas tree or anywhere in the living room. It is covered with a red blanket and when the kids are ready to open the presents, they grab a stick and hit the log singing a Christmas song and chanting “¡Caga tío, caga!” – and if they were good kids, the log “poops” out their presents. Yes, it “poops out” presents. If they weren’t good kids, they get pieces of charcoal. Lovely isn’t it? You can see it here.

The first time I saw this I was very confused but weirdly excited to see how many presents would come out! Now, we’re curious to see if our fellow LatinX countries have interesting traditions like the “Caga tío”. Here’s what we found so far:

 

1. Day of the Little Candles – “Día de las velitas”, December 7th: This is mostly a tradition in Colombia to mark the beginning of the holidays where family, friends and the community light up candles throughout the neighborhoods in honor of the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception on December 8th.

 

2. Holiday parties – “Posadas”: Most Latin American countries still do the traditional posada. Two groups of people reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph before reaching the stable. A group stays outside the home while the other group waits inside. The posada begins with the outside group singing asking for shelter and the inside group responds in song denying it until they are convinced of who Mary and Joseph are. Once the inside group open their home, everyone sings together and some choose to continue with other Christmas songs. After this, the holiday party begins and in Mexico and Guatemala they finish it with hitting piñatas filled with candy for the children. If it’s a grownup posada, some pinatas end up being filled with pranks…think eggs, flour, condoms, you name it – claaassy 😉

 

3. Las Parrandas (Puerto Rico and Venezuela): This tradition is one of the most festive ones. It can happen throughout December, there’s no set date for this. It involves the whole block or group of friends living nearby. A group of friends visit someone’s house by surprising them around 10pm with instruments like guitars and maracas and sing along, hang out at the first house for a little bit before moving on to someone else’s home with the first hosts joining in as well. This goes on for a few houses until they reach the last house where the party keeps going ‘til the late night hours.

 

A different way to celebrate Christmas in Venezuela is rollerblading! Image: senderosworld.com

4. Rollerblading – “Las Patinatas”: This holiday is mainly celebrated in Venezuela. People gather in the streets to celebrate the December season with music and food.

 

 

Christmas Eve is our main dinner and at midnight we say #FelizNavidad! Image: almomento.mx.

5. Navidad / Christmas Eve, December 24th: Most Latin American countries still celebrate this day as a “Navidad!” ‘til wee hours of the morning of the 25th. Christmas eve starts with the dinner around 7 or 8pm, followed by opening of presents at midnight and then the party continues until you can’t party anymore I guess?

 

 

 

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6. Christmas Day, December 25th: In the U.S. and parts of Mexico, Christmas Day is more of a Christmas wake up surprise for kids, many still see it as a day of rest in Latin America. Holiday to be with the family…in pj’s?

 

“La Misa de Gallo” is Christmas Eve mass. Image: Chronicle, Mark Costantini

7. Christmas Eve mass – “La misa del gallo”: Many families attend mass Christmas Eve to join in prayer as they wait for the birth of baby Jesus.

 

 

8. New Year’s Eve – “Año viejo”: At midnight, a doll made out of rags and fireworks is lit up to say goodbye to the bad things that the current year brought and welcome the new year.

 

9. Three Wise Men – “Día de los Reyes”, January 6th: Parents put up a sock or old shoe with a note for the three wise men stopping by on their way to see baby Jesus. The kids expect a small present and the people gather to eat a “Rosca de Reyes” with a baby Jesus figure hidden inside. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby Jesus inside, is in charge of throwing a party on February 2nd, “Día de la Candelaria.” Some people cheat and try to avoid that slice although it’s meant to be a blessing. Not gonna lie, we try to avoid the blessing of buying tamales and champurrado for everyone…We got bills to pay! Who celebrates it? Many Latin American countries and now we see more bakeries receiving early orders for a “rosca” in some parts of the U.S. – yay!

 

10. Candlemas – “Día de la Candelaria”, February 2nd: This is also a Christian celebration. It represents the purification of the blessed Virgin Mary hence the party (or feast) to celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus 40 days prior. After knowing what this day means, you feel bad you cheated on January 6th…

 

If you have a cool, quirky tradition, share it with us in the comments below. Happy holidays everyone!

#CagaTíoCaga #FelizNavidad #ChristmasDosAndDonts #TraditionsAreCool

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