All over the world, there exist numerous traditions related to Christmas gifts delivery. The most known are related to Santa Claus or Baby Jesus. On the east, kids believe in Grandfather Frost, elsewhere in Three Wise Men. In some places, people invent and celebrate their own customs – often bizarre and ridiculous. One of them is Catalonia in Spain.
Catalans receive presents from Tió de Nadal (Christmas log). His nickname, which is Caga Tió means simply Shitting Log. How does it look like? The character is made from a wood stump with painted face covered by a playful smile and mandatory red cap on its head (barretina). Tió usually appears at homes on December 8 and stays there until the last day before Christmas. Throughout this period, anyone who wants to get candies or other gifts is obliged to ‘feed’ the uncle in order to make him grow. From time to time parents change the log model for a larger one, taking the food left by the youth. The whole affair is how the gifts are acquired. On Christmas Eve, children grab the sticks in their hands and beat the stump until it poops out the presents. This is the reason why Tió has to eat as much as possible during Advent. In a time of the beating procedure there must be sung a special song:
“Caga tió Shit log,
caga torró, Shit nougats,
avellanes i mató, Hazelnuts and cheese,
si no cagues bé If you don’t shit well,
et daré un cop de bastó. I will hit you with a stick.
caga tió!” Shit log!
In the past, Christmas log was put into the fireplace instead of beating. Tió de Nadal can be found on every Christmas market in Barcelona, the most popular one – Fira de Santa Llúcia is located on Avinguda de la Catedral.
Another Christmas individual is el caganer. These figures are just the defecating people, present in various regions of Spain since the 18th century. They symbolize good luck and a great harvest in the new year. It happens sometimes that the caganer is a part of the crib. It is usually hidden, invisible at first glance. The challenge is to find it among others, more important figures. In the beginning, the caganer was presented exclusively as a Catalan boy, but nowadays it can be almost everyone. At the Christmas markets, you can find celebrities, actors, singers, football players, politicians or even the characters from animated movies, who perform previously mentioned action.
To conclude, it is worth to quote the popular Catalan adage for use before the Christmas meal: “Menja be, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort” – eat well, shit a good deal and don’t be afraid of death.