Saturday, December 20, 2014

Feeding the Poop Log: A Catalan Christmas Tradition

It's Christmas Eve, which means children across Catalonia are gathering in their homes for the traditional whacking of the festive shit log.

Tió de Nadal (Christmas log), a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face, and a floppy red hat, is a yule branch with a scatological spin. (Its other name is Caga Tió, or "shit log," for reasons that will shortly become apparent.)

On December 8 each year — the Feast of the Immaculate Conception — families bring out the happy log. Every night until December 24, children are tasked with "feeding" the log by offering him nuts, dried fruit, and water. Kids must also cover Tió de Nadal with a blanket to ensure he stays warm and comfortable.

On Christmas Eve, it is time for the little shit log to shine. Children gather around the red-hatted branch and beat him with sticks while singing the traditional Tió de Nadal song:

Shit log,
Shit nougats,
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don't shit well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Shit log!


Then comes the miracle: the kids look under Tió de Nadal's blanket and discover that the dear log has pooped out a pile of candies and presents. (The end of the defecation session is signaled by the presence of a stinky herring.) When everyone has collected their gifts from Tió de Nadal, the family burns him for warmth.

The poop log is not Catalonia's only defecation-based festive tradition. Take a close look at any nativity scene in the area and you'll spot Caganer, a porcelain man copping a squat in the presence of Mary, Joseph, and the Three Wise Men. Caganer is not meant to be sacreligious — his fertilization of the holy ground heralds a prosperous harvest in the new year.






By Ella Morton
@ellamorton

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders @atlasobscura.


Feeding the Poop Log: A Catalan Christmas Tradition


It's Christmas Eve, which means children across Catalonia are gathering in their homes for the traditional whacking of the festive shit log. Tió de Nadal (Christmas log), a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face, and a floppy red hat, is a yule branch with a scatological spin. (Its other name is Caga Tió, or "shit log," for reasons...
Read more »

Caganer: A Catalan Christmas tradition


Classic "caganer" No doubt we are all familiar with the obligatory baby Jesus in the manger scene rolled out every Christmas, but the early 18th-century inhabitants of Catalonia, Italy and certain areas of Southern France started a different tradition that lives on to this day. Unlike the English-speaking version of the Nativity scene,...
Read more »


Catalonia Tradition: Beating the hollow Christmas log until it defecates in your fireplace



Sure, putting a Christmas tree in your house seems pretty arbitrary considering the true religious context of the holiday. But beating a smiling, hollowed-out Christmas log until it “defecates” in your fireplace takes the celebration in Catalonia to a whole new level.  In Catalan, Tió de Nadal is roughly translated to Christmas...
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