"Caga tió, caga torró, avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé, et daré un cop de bastó.
This is arguably one of my favourite Christmas traditions ever. It's a little wacky, so bear with me, but it involves a log, some dried fruit and a blanket. If you're interested in another slightly unusual Christmas tradition, I spoke about Austria's Krampuslauf last week so check it out!
What is the Tió de Nadal?
The Tió de Nadal - or Christmas log - is a character in Catalan mythology. It's a little log, with legs, a face, and a barretina (a traditional Catalan hat). Beginning on the 8th of December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception [the day when Mary was conceived]), one feeds the tió every night. A typical diet for a tió consists of dried fruit and nuts, and occasionally some milk. Often, the tió is also covered with a blanket so it doesn't get cold.
Keeping the tió well-fed and warm is a very important job, and will effect the presents you receive later on.
On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve in some cases, the tió is beaten with a stick whilst one sings the caga tió song.
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé,
et daré un cop de bastó,
hazelnuts and mató (a type of cheese),
if you don't poo well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Very festive, right?! Technically the correct translation uses a four-letter word for poo, but my mum reads here so I had to censor it.
Anyway, after each round someone reaches under the blanket and pulls out a present! The presents are usually just dried fruit, or nougat, as sung in the song, as the larger presents are believed to be delivered by the Three Wise Men in January. When no presents are left, the tió will poo out a head of garlic or an onion, and sometimes it even urinates . . . in the form of a bowl of water.