The Caga Tio and how not to get gifted coal on Christmas Eve

The Catalans have many of the Christmas traditions that the rest of us also proudly take part in. These include sending Christmas cards, spending Christmas Day with your family and loved ones, as well as taking an extra day off, just because, for Boxing Day. There are many local traditions, however, that are slightly more, shall we say, colorful than those of us of the North American persuasion are used to.

Okay, A LOT more colorful.

One of these is the Caga Tio. The Caga Tio, is a magical Christmas log that poops presents on Christmas Eve. (Yes, you heard me right. It poops them.) It is normally hollowed out, around 30cms in length and has a smiling face painted on it. Tradition states that after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the log must be fed because the more you feed it, the more (and presumably, better) presents it will poop.

Of course, it will only poop presents if you’ve been good. If you’ve been naughty this year, the Caga Tio will out of principle only give you coal. On the bright side, the gifts that that Caga Tio expels are communal rather than individual, so even if you HAVE been a complete jerk this past year, as long as you have nice people as friends, you’re set. To encourage the Caga Tio to provide with presents rather than coal, Catalan children are advised to beat the log with sticks and sing the following ditty:

“Caga Tió, Tió de Nadal/No caguis arengades, que són salades / Caga torrons, que són més bons!”

which roughly translates as:

“Caga Tió, Christmas Tió / Don’t poo sardines, which are salty / Poop nougats, which are nicer!”

Or alternatively, there’s this one:

“Caga tió, Caga torró/ Avellanes i mato/ Si no cagues bé / et daré un cop de bastó /caga tió!”

which means:

“Caga tió, nougats log / hazelnuts and cottage cheese / if you don’t shit well / I’ll hit you with a stick / caga tio!”

When finally, worn out from the singing and log beating, you do lift the little blanket keeping the Caga Tio warm and look for your presents, you will find candy, torrons [nougats], toffee, and even sometimes toys and other presents. Or, alternatively, if you and all of your friends have been completely evil this past year, a buttload of coal.