Christmas is getting closer and closer and I want to share a bit about experiencing Christmas in Catalonia If you’ve been here around the holiday season and if you visitied one of the many Christmas markets that the Catalan towns offer to you, I am 100% sure that you have seen these wooden creatures:
You might have seen them in different shapes and sizes and many different faces, but this little thing is Tió de Nadal (log/firewood of Christmas). Originally this log was used in the fireplace and its warmth was a gift for the house. But things have changed a little bit. Nowadays, the piece of wood is decorated with paws, a cute face and a Catalan hat. A couple of weeks before Christmas children start to feed the Tió and they give him drinks and a blanket so he doesn’t get cold. The food usually consists of raw fruits and vegetables or even their peels.
You might wonder why they feed a piece of firewood. Well, this has the following reason. It’s because the log has to poo. The log is also called called cagatió which basically means pooing log. On Christmas’ Eve or on the 25th of December, when the log has been well fed for many days, children start to hit him with a stick. While hitting him they also sing typical songs for the occasion. After hitting him for a while, the log will start to poop presents. These aren’t big presents, but usually the log poops candies, chocolate and others sweets. When the log is almost done pooping, you will find a garlic or an onion. This means that the party is over.
The Tió de Nadal only poos small presents, but the children don’t have to worry. The holiday season in Spain goes on till the 6th of January. The bigger presents are brought to the children on this day of the three wise men. There are many more traditions to talk about, but for now I will leave it to this, as cagatió probably was one of the most surprising traditions for me.