Tag Archives: catalan culture

People Find Me by Googling the Strangest Phrases. Here Are My Responses.

I figured we could all use some comic relief right about now, and this post is presented in that spirit. First, however, I have an exciting announcement: I have been informed by the manager of the Pomeranz bookstore that they will be stocking Letters to Josep: An Introduction to Judaism as of around two weeks from now. They are the most well-known English-language bookstore in Jerusalem, specializing in books of Jewish content, and I am beyond delighted to have my book on their shelves. If you are in the Jerusalem area, I hope you will support both me and them by purchasing a copy from them. They are located downtown, on Be’eri Street, between Ben Yehuda and Hillel. I intend to drop by after the stock arrives to sign some copies, too.

If you have any kind of relationship with the manager of a local bookstore, here’s what you can do to get LtJ onto their shelves: print out a copy of my press kit, or even simply the first page of it, and hand it to them. If they end up ordering some copies, let me know and I will send you a signed bookplate in thanks!

And now, today’s post.


I enjoy checking the visitor stats for this blog. I love to see what countries people are reading from. When I first started writing and my audience was smaller, I knew exactly who was reading when I got a visit from a place like Spain (hi Josep!) or Japan (hi Pamela!), but now, thank God, I tend to get enough traffic from enough interesting places that I really can’t be sure.

Google usually encrypts people’s search terms, so most of the time I have no idea what people have Googled that led them to this blog. Occasionally, though, a non-encrypted search term will appear in my stats, and… let’s just say, sometimes I prefer not to know.

Today I have decided to respond to some of these people and address the (fairly odd) questions that led them to me.

“I often wonder the jews the men smartly dressed with trilbys hats. what do they do in life beside praying.”

Well. That’s pretty much what this whole blog is for! If you find it overwhelming, I highly recommend reading my book!

“isnt delaying iftaar practise of jews? so whats strange if we find this in shias because”

Ramadan Kareem, Internet Stranger! To be accurate, Jews do not observe Ramadan and do not have iftars. (You can read more about Jewish fasting practices and how they compare to those of Islam and Christianity here.)

However, your question inspired me to do a little research, wherein I learned that there is a dispute between Sunnis and Shias concerning iftar (break-fast) time. From what I read, most Sunnis break the fast after sunset, and most Shias break it after nightfall. While it is true that Jews, too, break fasts after nightfall, Shias observe this timing of iftar not because they are secretly Jews, but because of Surah Buqarah aya 187: “eat and drink until the whiteness of the day becomes distinct from the blackness of the night at dawn, then complete the fast till night.

The confusion is because on both the Hebrew and the Muslim calendar, days begin at night. But when does the night begin? Sunset? Twilight? Dusk? Nightfall? Not clear! We Jews call the period between sunset and nightfall “bein hashmashot,” literally “between the suns,” and there are all kinds of difficulties due to the uncertainty regarding exactly which day it is during that period! We try to err on the side of stringency in both directions. That’s why we fast until nightfall.

“weird things jews do”/”jews practicing weird customs”

I get this a lot. My post “15 Weird Things Jews Do” went viral last year and is, at the moment, the #2 result when I Google that phrase. Weird Jewish Customs ‘R’ Us!

“wierd thongs jews do”

That, my friend, is an entirely different question.

“religious people are right about sex”

Well, I am flattered that you think so. I wouldn’t put it quite so boldly, but I tend to agree with you, as evidenced by this post.

“pizza manu carp meem domenoz”

I…. am so sorry. I have no idea what language that is, and I certainly have no idea how you managed to stumble across my blog while Googling it. I do love pizza, though, so there’s that.

“do breslev kallah cover their hair straight after the chuppah”

Huh. No idea. I know that some Sephardic brides do, but Breslev is a sect of Hassidism originating in Ashkenaz, so I would guess that they don’t. In any case, it wouldn’t be straight after the chuppah, it would be after the yichud room. (If you don’t understand half the words in those last two sentences, see Different Kinds of Jews, Part I, and Part II, and my “Jewish Weddings” post.)

“what is the halakhic definition of a jew?”

Excellent question! Someone who was born to a halakhically Jewish mother, or who converted to Judaism according to Jewish law. More details here.

“stay with me versionada al català”

Em sap greu. I have literally no idea how or why Google directed you to me! The extent of my Catalan is a few key phrases/greetings and a couple random food words like el poncem and la remolatxa. (Don’t even ask.) (Okay, you can ask. El poncem because it’s a fruit used in an odd Jewish ritual during Succotla remolatxa because, as explained in the footnote on Passover Part II: “I served a Moroccan beet salad to Josep when he was here for Shabbat, and he asked me what it was, but we did not have a common language in which we both knew the word for this vegetable. After Shabbat I Googled it, and now I’ll never forget. (When I clarified, he was like, ‘Not something I eat every day!’ Was that a polite way to tell me he hated it? I decided not to press the issue.)”)

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes: “Stay with Me.” I can see why you wanted a translation; it’s a catchy and poignant song. Unfortunately the lyrics aren’t much to write home about. You should definitely write a better version in Catalan.

“caganer equivalent in judaism”

Listen… I’ll be the first to admit that Jews have some pretty odd practices. (See: “Weird Things Jews Do” above.) But Catalans and their crazy Christmas traditions are a whole different class of weird.

We have no such equivalent. Sorry to disappoint you. But Josep and I always get excited about anyone drawing any connection, however vague it may be, between Judaism/Israel and Catalonia, so thanks for the thought.

“catalan jew never invite”

I know, right? I have also been disappointed by this lack of hospitality on the part of Catalan Jews. So has Josep, who was not allowed to enter the synagogue in Barcelona because he is not Jewish. Uncool, Catalan Jews. (In their defense, their spurning of Josep was because of the tight security, which is meant to keep Jews safe from antisemites. Of course, if they had bothered to talk to him for more than 30 seconds, they would have realized that they had something entirely different on their hands.)

“jewish therapy barcelona”

Yes, Barcelona is most definitely in need of some Jewish therapy.

“yiddish nachas, vol. 2”

If you are my mother, I believe you have arrived at the correct destination.

(“Yiddishe nachas” generally refers to the feeling of pride and satisfaction a Jewish parent feels about their children being good Jews. More about “nachas” here.)

“tomb of the paper manufacturer max krause in the jerusalem cemetery in berlin”

I…. literally have no idea what this is about. And I have no idea how Google decided that my blog had anything to do with it. Sorry.

“letters as to why shabbat is important”

I’ve got one! Here it is.

“danniella levy shaving”

Regretfully, I’ve been growing out my beard for years. Can’t help you there.

“download video seks daniela levy”

…Nope.

“foto danniella levy”

That you can have. It’s on the “about” page of the blog. But I have a feeling you may be disappointed. In light of this line of inquiry on the part of Random Internet Strangers such as yourself, it has come to my attention that there’s a porn star who shares my name, and, well. Nope. Juuuuust nope.

Gonna file that one under “Things I Wish I Never Knew About the Universe.”

“the sanctity of shabbos: a comprehensive guide to forbidden activities which one may ask a gentile to do on the sabbath or yom tov”

Actually, it’s a debate as to whether or not it is permissible to ask a gentile to do anything forbidden on the Sabbath or Yom Tov. Most agree that ideally, you should not do so, even though you may benefit from the actions of a non-Jew on Shabbat (say, if you are sharing a room with a non-Jewish roommate and she turns off the light so she can sleep). But if it’s really necessary for your well-being during Shabbat, you can hint to a non-Jew that you need something done for you (for instance, if the light is on in your room and you catch a random non-Jew in the hallway and say something like, “The light in my room is extremely bright, don’t you think? Very hard to sleep with it on, I imagine”).

This is not a comprehensive guide, of course. I hope you found one.

“i asked for forgiveness to anyone gmar katima tova”

Oh. I am glad to hear that. Gmar Chatima Tova to you as well.

“what is the special dietary needs that must be considered for the juwish”

Aha! Now that is a question Josep has asked me! And my answer was so complicated it was split into three letters: here, here, and here.

“i m not supporter of orthodox rutuals a letter”

Hmm. This blog is probably not what you were looking for.

“chag hakurban”

Who are you that you Googled “Eid Al-Adha” under its Hebrew name in English transliteration? You sound like my kind of person.

Well folks, if you have any other random (or non-random) questions for me, do feel free to ask!

A Little Elaboration on Nadal de Catalunya

I have a couple guest letters coming on Christmas, but while we wait for said guests to get their acts together 😛 I must partake in my annual tradition of teasing Josep about his own culture’s extremely strange Christmas traditions. 😀

Those of you who were following the blog from its infancy probably saw the post I made last Christmas about how Josep introduced me to the tradition of caga-tió. Here is that video he sent me again, for those of you who missed it. It makes me giggle uncontrollably every time I see it.

Well, my unsuspecting friends, there is more.

By Roeland P. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Roeland P. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How do I even begin to explain this.

No, the picture above is not of a crude figurine for a ten-year-old boy. It is the, um, unique Catalan addition to traditional nativity scenes. Believe it or not, the, ah, act portrayed here symbolizes good fortune and fertility. Hence the caga-tió, too. This figurine is called the Caganer, which means exactly what you think it means.

Moving right along, as some of you may know, Christmastide in Spain is a month-long bonanza, starting from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) and ending with Three King’s Day (January 6th). Christmas decorations and preparations begin on December 8th, including the preparation of the caga-tió–which has the, um, treats beaten out of it on Christmas Eve (December 24th). The biggest festive meal is also on Christmas Eve, though the feasting continues through Christmas Day (December 25th).

In Catalonia, St. Stephan’s Day (the Feast of San Estaban–December 26th) is also celebrated with a festive meal, apparently because all those Catalan mothers wanted something to do with all their leftovers from the feasts of the previous two days. (No, really. The traditional food is canneloni, made of pasta stuffed with the meat left over from the previous meals.)

December 28th is the feast of Los Santos Inocentes, and the Internets inform me that this is the Spanish equivalent to April Fools’ Day, where people play pranks and practical jokes on each other. The day is in commemoration of children who were killed by King Herod around the time of Jesus’s birth. (I don’t know about this story, but I wouldn’t put anything past King Herod, who happens to have been buried very close to where I live. He was a paranoid crazy dude.)

Next, of course, comes New Years’ Day, and you probably know all about that.

Then there’s Three Kings’ Day. This day celebrates the three wise men who, according to the Christian Bible, brought gifts to baby Jesus after he was born: gold, myrrh, and frankincense. They have traditionally been remembered as being kings, though the Christian Bible does not say so specifically.

On January 5th, there is a procession that begins at the Barcelona port, as the “three kings” arrive and then parade through the city. Instead of stockings for Santa Claus, children leave out their shoes for the Three Kings; and instead of cookies and milk, they leave out water for the kings’ camels. (Ever the practical people! Why does no one seem to worry about Santa Claus’s reindeer?!) Similarly to the Santa Claus tradition, children write letters to the kings about whether they have been good or bad.

Looks familiar, right? "Reyes Magos en centro comercial" by Fernando Estel - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Looks familiar, right? I suspect they got those beards from the same supplier as Santa Claus… “Reyes Magos en centro comercial” by Fernando EstelOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

On the morning of January 6th, they are given their gifts, and Three Kings’ Day is celebrated with a final festive meal.

Now I have to say, as a blasphemous Jesus-killer1 😛 , the concept of the children getting gifts from the three kings makes a lot more sense than Santa Claus. But no one asked me, and it’s probably good that they didn’t!

If you find my attempts to explain Catalan traditions amusing, you might like to see my post about St. Jordi’s Day too. 😛

Bon Nadal, to all, big and small, and I better stop with all this Christian nonsense and start cooking for Shabbat before I start to crank out more corny bilingual Christmas poetry! 😛


1. …Since I never know who’s reading… this is a joke. The Jews did not kill Jesus. See “The Great Post of Jewish Conspiracies!

Imagine This: In Defense of Nationalism

Dear Josep,

While poking around the Internet for information on Sunday’s elections in Catalonia1, I came across this article about the preservation of the Catalan language.  I had wondered myself how your people managed to maintain your language, despite hundreds of years under regimes that not only had different official languages, but tried to suppress yours. It’s actually quite remarkable. Many nations far bigger and more powerful have disappeared without a trace, and their languages with them. Yet despite the fact that there has not been an independent Catalonia for centuries, the Catalan language and culture are thriving. How have they survived?

The author of the article argues that it is precisely that attempt at suppression that made the Catalans all the more determined to preserve their language and traditions. The concept made me smile, because it sounds very familiar. You have often told me that “the Catalans are like the Jews of Spain,” and while I think Spain did a fairly outstanding job oppressing its actual Jews, I understand a little better what you mean now.

I couldn't help myself.
I couldn’t help myself.2

In this postmodern world of globalization, nationalism is becoming a relic of a previous age. Liberal progressives have begun to see nationalism as tribalism, the kind of grouping together that leads to hatred and discrimination and oppression of minorities. John Lennon’s “Imagine” is celebrated as an ideal vision of a peaceful world: no borders, no nations, no religions, just everybody being together as one. A liberal humanist Messianic vision, if you will.

La la la laaaaaa
Yes, I know this is a different song. Bear with me here.

But that song, and the idea behind it, always struck a sour chord with me. (And not just because of the unimpressive poetry. “I’m not the only one… the world will be as one,” you call that a rhyme…? Sorry, Beatles fans.) Sure, it sounds great for humans to be able to live and move freely and safely wherever they like. I’m all for that. But if you take this idea all the way, to a world that is one huge homogenized “soup” of humanity, removing all differences… wouldn’t this come at the expense of diversity? What if each of these nations Lennon proposes to dissolve has something different and unique to contribute, influenced by the unique conditions under which it formed? Franco’s vision of a homogeneous Spain struck me as a microcosm of the problem with Lennon’s idea. He said to your people, “Oh, stop with your silly insistence on being different from the rest of us. We are all Spaniards.” While I appreciate the compassionate and respectful intentions of humanists who argue that we should all be one, and of course agree with the idea of connecting over our common humanity… on some level, aren’t they saying, “Oh, stop with your silly insistence on being different from the rest of us. We are all humans”?

And that’s without even getting into the “no religion” thing. I know that the popular opinion these days is that religion is also a destructive force, responsible for much of the violence in the world. I beg to differ: human nature is responsible for the violence in the world, and for distorting religion to justify it. I would argue the opposite: religion is responsible for introducing the concepts of self-discipline, respect and compassion for fellow man, and upholding human rights that the Western world takes for granted today. But that’s beyond the scope of this post. Hopefully I’ll write more about it in the future.

Back to Franco. Faced with his oppression, the instinct of your people was to defiantly cling to your identity. No dictator was going to tell you who you are. We Jews had much the same reaction to all the regimes that tried to oppress us.

I think that, like many other “isms” in the world, nationalism is a neutral concept that can be used for good and for evil. When using it for evil, nations use it to exclude and oppress others; but when using it for good, nations use it to know themselves, to have a strong sense of purpose, and to move forward together as a group with a common destiny. Nationalism, at its core, is the belief that your nation has its own unique and important contribution to the story of humanity–through its language, through its traditions, or through its culture. It is the assertion that you have a right to be who you are, and to love who you are, and to embrace what makes you different, as a people.

Without even getting into the question of Jewish nationalism (a.k.a. Zionism), we Jews have gotten a lot of flak for referring to ourselves as the “Chosen People.” I know it sounds like an elitist idea. But it doesn’t mean we think we’re better than anyone else. It means that we believe we have an essential and unique role in the story of humanity.

And one must admit, it’s pretty hard to deny that we do. As Mark Twain famously put it in his 1899 essay, “Concerning the Jews”:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.

His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it. The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

I think a good way to explain how Jews view our role in the human story is an essay by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, a Jewish physicist and philosopher, called “If You Were God.” He proposes a thought experiment, whereby the reader is asked to imagine that he is given the mission to create a healthy and compassionate society on an island of several tribes that are belligerent and exploitative of one another. While the reader is given full “power” to do whatever he wants on the island, it is of crucial importance that he not reveal himself, because the islanders would not be able to handle it and would be reduced to a vegetable-like state of dependence on the all-powerful being that controls their island. Rabbi Kaplan’s suggested solution is to introduce a tribe of “infiltrators”–people who can teach the islanders about kindness and compassion towards one another.  You can read the full essay here (and I highly recommend it, as my summary can hardly do it justice).

But I think the best summary of all is this incredible animated essay by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, which he released shortly before Rosh Hashana this year, adapted from his recent book Radical Then, Radical Now. I watched it over and over and it brought me to tears every time. Every word he says here expresses exactly how I feel about what it means to be a Jew.

Again, no one quote can do it justice, but in our context, this one is the most relevant: “I admire other civilisations and traditions, and believe each has brought something special into the world. Aval zeh shelanu, ‘but this is ours.’ This is my people, my heritage, my faith. In our uniqueness lies our universality. Through being what we alone are, we give to humanity what only we can give. This, then, is our story, our gift to the next generation. I received it from my parents and they from theirs across great expanses of space and time. There is nothing quite like it. It changed and still challenges the moral imagination of mankind.”

With the future of Catalan independence still uncertain, all I can do is wish you that through being what you alone are, you will give to humanity what only you can give, and pass it as a gift to the next generation, and they to the next, regardless of who holds sovereignty over Catalonia. Your people has already proven its stamina in preserving its uniqueness under challenging conditions. May you always take pride in your people, and use your nationalism to spread your unique light in the world.

Oh and by the way, I hear that among the first steps the Catalan government is planning to take towards independence, is setting up the foreign office and embassies in other countries.

*cough* Just saying.

Love,

Daniella


1. For those who have no idea what we’re talking about: on September 27th, a very important general election was held in Catalonia (where Josep is from), which is currently an autonomous region in Spain that has been mulling secession for a long time. The election was important because the question of declaring independence was the top item on the agenda, and the winning party had committed to seceding from Spain within 18 months. Things are uncertain, however, since that party did not win an absolute majority, meaning it must create a coalition, and it has significant differences with the other pro-separation party in the parliament. Of course, the government of Spain refuses to accept the idea of Catalonia’s secession, and will do whatever it can to prevent it, further complicating matters. The situation will hopefully become more clear after the coalition is made, and especially after the general elections in Spain in December. (How’d I do, Josep?)

2. The flag flown by Catalan separatists, La Estelada, features the Senyera–the red and yellow striped Catalan flag–with a blue triangle on the left that has a white five-point star on it. Nu, so I added a point.

St. Jordi’s Day, as Explained by an American-Israeli Jew

…Yes, it is Israeli Independence Day. (Whee!)

Blue food coloring, anyone?
Blue food coloring, anyone?

But it just so happens that this year (2015), it coincides with a holiday that is celebrated in a distinct way in Catalonia. Since I already described Yom Ha’Atzma’ut to you, I’m going to give Josep a good laugh, and attempt to explain about La Diada de Sant Jordi, a.k.a., St. Jordi’s Day.

So. What is St. Jordi’s Day? Well… it’s kind of the Catalan Valentine’s Day. Only with dragons. And Shakespeare.

…Stay with me here.

Let’s take it from the top: “Jordi” is the Catalan version of the name George. Ahhh, the Catholics say. Right. April 23rd is St. George’s Day. St. George is apparently a pretty popular saint, because aside from being the patron saint of England, he was also the patron saint of Aragon (and Catalonia. They were sort of the same thing at the time. Except not. Iberian history is terribly confusing). Peter I of Aragon declared him thus when he won an important battle under St. George’s patronage. I guess no one told him the Brits had dibs on ol’ George five hundred years prior. Well actually a lot of people/cities/countries apparently missed that memo, from Beirut to the Boy Scouts. Like I said. Popular.

Speaking of lack of creativity, because St. Jordi is so popular in Catalonia, approximately 99.7% of Catalan males are named Jordi. (…Okay, that assertion is patently false. Point is, it’s a very popular name, kind of equivalent to John in the USA or, I dunno, David in Israel.)

So why does the dude have so many fans? Not very clear. As a historical figure there isn’t very much known about him. The legend that is popular in Catalonia goes something like this: so there’s this dragon, right, and there’s this village, and for some reason they aren’t getting along. (Something about poisoning the air? Or getting in the way of a well? There are a few different versions…) So the villagers need to sacrifice sheep to appease said dragon, or maybe the dragon was stealing their livestock, or they have to distract him away from the well. Anyhow, when they run out of sheep they start using young maidens. (A fairly natural progression, apparently. Personally I might have tried chocolate cake first, but no one asked me.) So one day the maiden chosen is the princess, and she sets off to meet her fate, but in the nick of time–cue victorious music–along comes St. Jordi on his white horse and slays the dragon with his sword! Or was it a lance?

Reggio_calabria_icona_san_giorgio_martire
Yeah, that looks like a lance.

In any event, the dragon’s blood flows to the earth and from it, a single red rose blossoms. St. Jordi picks the rose and gives it to the princess. The princess and the town are thus converted to Christianity and everyone lives happily ever after!

(…Wait.)

Anyway, somehow the entire point of the story being about the princess and the town converting got glossed over, and the giving of the rose was sort of reinterpreted as a romantic gesture (though, one might note, St. Jordi didn’t actually marry her or anything). Thus, St. Jordi’s Day turned into “the day of lovers”, wherein men give roses–usually decorated with a sprig of wheat and/or the yellow and red stripes of the senyera, the Catalan flag–to their ladies.

Aww.
By Jordi Payà Canals (CC BY SA 2.0). See, I told you they were all named Jordi.

(If you think that’s a stretch, you should read up on St. Valentine.)

But wait, there’s more!

April 23rd also happens to be the deathdate of two very important and famous writers: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. The first to make the connection between April 23rd and books were apparently Catalan vendors in the 1920’s, in honor of Cervantes, and because hey, all the ladies are getting roses because of St. Jordi and the dead dragon, don’t we gentlemen deserve a gift too? I like what you did there, Catalans. UNESCO apparently thought this was a pretty awesome idea too and decided to make April 23rd World Book Day in the 1990’s.

And that is how St. Jordi’s Day became Catalonia’s “love” holiday, which is celebrated by the exchange of roses and books among lovers and friends. And also by hanging Catalan flags everywhere and selling and eating food decorated with its red and yellow stripes. Because, any excuse.

See, here you've got your roses, your books, and your senyera--the Catalan flag. By Fransesc_2000 (CC BY SA 2.0)
See, here you’ve got your roses, your books, and your senyera.
By Fransesc_2000 (CC BY 2.0). Okay, fine, some of them are named Fransesc. Or Josep. Or whatever. 😛

(…Look, as far as sweet cultural traditions go, it sure beats caga-tió. 😛 )

(…Pun not intended. Ugh.)

Yom Atzma’ut Sameach, Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi, and Happy World Book Day!

…Just don’t start barbecuing books, or exchanging Israeli flags with your lover, or mixing up your blue-and-white/red-and-yellow icing on your cookies, or… yeah.

Yeah, um, no, guys. That would be the Venezuelan flag.
Yeah, um, no, guys. That would be the Venezuelan flag.

(If you read through this whole entry asking yourself, what the heck is this Catalan language, flag, and culture you’re talking about?! Here ya go.)

And Now for Something a Little Different…

On Christmas of 2006, Josep sent me the following video to educate me on Christmas traditions in Catalonia, with the following comment: “At least it’s funny!”

All I could say was, “And you thought JEWS were weird. o.O ”

To all my Christian readers, a very merry Christmas, and to the Catalans: may el Caga-tió, erm, excrete in your favor.

(I challenge you to tell us about an even stranger holiday tradition in the comments.)