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Caga Tió [ Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 15:39 ]
ursine1
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[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]

Last year I posted about the caganer or “shitter”, a traditional Catalán nativity scene decoration. In the same vein, this year I bring you...


Sorry, I don't have another picture.
This was taken last week at the Fira at the Barcelona cathedral.

The Tió de Nadal ("Christmas log"), also known as Caga Tió ("shit log"), Tió or Tronca ("log"), is a mythological character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalunya. For children it can take the place of Santa Claus.

The usual form of the Caga Tió is a hollow log of about 0.3m (1 ft) in length, typically standing up on two or four little stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on the higher of the two ends, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional Catalan barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose.

Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to "eat" every night and usually covers him with a little blanket so that he will not be cold at night.

Beating the Caga Tió

On Christmas day or on Christmas eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace or on a table and orders it to "shit". To make him "shit", one beats him with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are brought by the Three Wise Men (January 6). It does leave candies, nuts and torrons (turrón in castellano). Depending on the part of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. When nothing is left to "shit", it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or "urinates". What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present. (This is like the piñatas in México.)

The nickname Caga Tió derives from the many songs of Tió de Nadal that begin with this phrase, which was originally (in the context of the songs) an imperative ("Shit, log!"). The use of this expression as a name is not believed to be part of the ancient tradition. The tradition of the tió could be related to that of the Christmas tree.

Here is a short sample song of the caga tió:

Caga tió, Shit log,
caga turró, shit torrons,
avellanes i mató. hazelnuts and cheese,
Si no cagues bé, If you don't shit well,
et daré un cop de bastó.   I'll hit you a hard with a stick.
¡caga tió! Shit, log!

After hitting the tió gently with a stick during the song, it is hit harder on the words ¡caga tió!. Then somebody puts their hand under the blanket and takes a gift. The gift is opened and then the song begins again.

After being somewhat obscured by the competition from the Three Kings and Santa Claus, the Caga Tió is making a resurgence in its popularity recently.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 17:13 (UTC)
You can imagine the reaction in our Catalan class when our teacher explained this custom. We keep waiting to see if he was joking or not, but he sounded so sincere and the explanation grew more elabourate to the point where we couldn't accept that he was simply making it all up.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 17:41 (UTC)
But it's true, it's true! I find that some of the catalanes that I know are a little embarrassed by these traditions. But I think they're cool.

Carles
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[User Picture]From: muckefuck
Tuesday, 12 Dec 06 | 18:16 (UTC)
The politics of the whole thing just fascinates me. First you have the old traditions dying out as the bourgeoisie became more cosmopolitan and embarrassed about what seems like juvenile behaviour in contrast to the sophisticated celebrations of the French and English, then you have a resurgence of them as they come to represent national particularism and an affinity to the "common man" that's appealing to those trying to burnish their socialist credentials.

But, really, I'm just envious I didn't get to beat candy out of a log when I was little. Hanging up stockings for St. Nick just isn't the same!
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