Tió de Nadal: Catalonia’s Pooping Christmas Log

I love Christmas almost as much as I love trying new things. Gordon has a knack for finding the strangest and best things other cultures/the internet have to offer and having the requisite skills to do them. In truly American fashion, we decided to round out our Christmas  with 12 Days of Imported Christmas traditions.

On the First Day of Imported Christmas, we’re going with one  of our favorite traditions found so far. When Gordon saw an article about Caga Tió, the Catalonian poop log, he immediately went out to the garage to make one.

The Tió de Nadal (Christmas Log) or Caga Tió (poop log) evolved from the European Yule log tradition. Families would cut a large Yule log and keep it on the hearth until Christmas Eve, when they’d burn the log while feasting. The log was said to have magical powers to keep evil away. In parts of Spain and southern France, those powers included the amazing ability to “defecate gifts” (see Santa Claus, A Biography by Gerry Bowler).

On December 8th, families find or make a Tió de Nadal, which is a log with a whimsical face, traditional small red hat, and blanket. The family puts the log in a place of honor near the tree and children feed it candy and fruit every night. In the morning, they find wrappers and peels. The better the food, the more likely the log is to reward you in the end.

Christmas Eve is the culmination of your Caga Tió experience. Children sing some version of this song while hitting the log with a stick:

“Caga tió,
caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”
poop, log,
poop nougats,
hazelnuts and mató cheese,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
poop, log!

In some iterations, you tell the log not to poop sardines because they are too salty, so it should poop turróns (a nougat with nuts) instead. With this encouragement and some vigorous hitting, the log poops candy and presents, which the children find by lifting the blanket. It combines two of every child’s favorite things: talking about poop and getting presents.

So Gordon made an adorable log, we ripped a Santa hat off a pretty terrible wine coozie from the dollar store, and I spent more time than necessary making a tiny quilt. Now he sits proudly by our tree and we force everyone who comes over to hear about Tió de Nadal. We’re all winners in this I think.

Apparently many people burn the log after Christmas Eve, but I’m feeling a little too attached for that.

Twelve Days of Imported Christmas

  1. The First Day: Tió de Nadal: Catalonia’s Pooping Christmas Log
  2. The Second Day: Kentucky for Christmas: Japan’s Festive KFC
  3. The Third Day: Speculaas: Netherlands’ Quintessential Christmas Cookies
  4. The Fourth Day: Wassailing: England’s Apple Tree Pep Talk
  5. The Fifth Day: Jolabokaflod: Iceland’s Literary Flood

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