Cagatió in Spain


Around the world, Santa Claus is famous to bring presents to children for Christmas. But… Spain is different. For most Spanish families, it’s instead the Three Wise Men that bring presents on January 6th. In the Basque country, it’s the Olentzero (a mytical coal vendor) and his frriend Mari Domingi who bring gifts on Christmas eve. But what about Barcelona and Catalonia? Well… while the Wise Men do also come on January 6th, for Christmas the Tio de Nadal log poops presents after being fed and hit with sticks.

“Tió de Nadal” means “Christmas Log”, and often Catalan people refer to it simply as “El Tió” – The Log (not to be confused with the Spanish word “tio”, uncle in Spanish – nothing to do with it). The action of hitting the log to make it poop presents is called “Fer cagar el Tió” (make the log poop). However, since the song that accompanies the log hitting starts with “Caga Tió” (Poop, log!), you may hear Catalan people refering to the log as the “Caga Tió” or “Cagatió”, and to the action as “Fer el Cagatió”. A grammatically incorrect expression, but a very spread one. In English you’ll often see this Catalan tradition translated as “pooping log” or “poop log” – because it’s translated from the song lyrics rather than the actual name of the log. 


How does the poop log look like?

Catlan pooping log Christmas tradition

The Tio de Nadal is a piece of wood from a tree trunk, traditionally a cork tree, but it could also be pine tree or any tree that grows in the Mediterranean area. Ideally it needs to be around 30-40cm / 12-15 inches long. Anything smaller works well as Christmas decoration, to display over a window sill, a mantelshelf, a credenza or on a shop window, but it can be too small to poop presents from it. The log is often supported by two wooden front legs, while its bottom rests on the floor.

In the old times an old log was all you needed, but modernly the pooping logs come with one of their sides painted with a happy face that make them easier to be recognized as a Christmas pooping log. They may even sport a small piece of wood as their nose – just like the carrot on the snowman. They now also often wear a “barretina” hat – a traditional Catalan red bonnet with a black rim. Sometimes they also smoke a pipe (specially those for decoration, rather than the actual pooping presents purpose).

The Catalan poop log needs to be covered with a wool blanket. At home any blanket that is big enough to cover the Cagatio and the presents will do. But if you want it to have a more traditional look, go for a tartan blanket with Christmassy colors such as reds, whites, blacks and greens.

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