Have you ever heard about a log that pops candy and presents at Christmas? Tió de Nadal is one of the most bizarre traditions in Catalonia. Also known as Caga Tió (popping record) is a tree trunk that visits Catalan kids instead of Santa Claus. He has been given the leftovers since the 8th of December, such as tangerine skin or eggshells. It is also essential to provide him with water so he can be prepared to pop candy the day before Christmas. The more you feed him, the more Christmas presents he will give you!
This cheerful character wears the traditional clothing of Catalonia, a “barretina” that is a red hat and is covered by a checkered blanket so that he isn’t cold at night.
When the 24th of December comes, Catalan kids are given sticks to beat him up while singing the “Caga Tió” song to get him to “poo” some presents. Here is an example of such a song:
Catalan: caga tió, tió de nadal, no caguis arengades que són salades, caga torrons, que són molt bons, i si no, et donaré un cop de bastó… pum pum pum!
English: Christmas log, do not poop salted sardines, which are salty, poop “torrons,” which are very good, and if you don’t poop well, I will hit you with a stick… pump pump pump!
Some typical presents are candy, sweets, turró nougat and maybe a little gift.
This was a particular tradition back in the days when the fireplace was an essential part of family life. Tió was related to nature and was a source of heat and light in winter. Originally, Tió was put near the fireplace and was burned on the day of Christmas, yet this ritual is no longer used because of the lack of fireplaces in modern houses.
Another curious and iconic figure of the Catalan traditions is the” caganer,” which means “the shitter.” And it is attributed to a native figure in the act of defecation. This eccentric character is put in the nativity scene and represents fertilization. It is an old idea from the days when the land was more closely related to the daily lives of all humans.
Emma Utrillo Perez