Updated December 2022.
The Tió de Nadal or Cagatió is one of the traditions most deeply rooted in Catalan Christmas. Together with the figure of the Caganer in the manger scene, the Tió de Nadal (meaning in English “Christmas Log”) chairs numerous homes when this time of year arrives. Have you ever wondered why we have such scatological traditions in our land? We are not surprised that a lot of people coming from outside are stunned seeing us beating the Tió with sticks to make it defecate gifts or that they do not understand why there are so many figures with their ass left out defecating on the stalls of the Christmas markets.
Today we explain you why these traditions!
Tió de Nadal or Christmas Log
Beating the Tió de Nadal or Christmas Log is a tradition that surprises many people coming out from Catalonia or Aragón. When they see all the members of the family hitting a trunk with barretina (the traditional Catalan red cap), previously fed, at the rhythm of a song that encourages the log to defecate gifts, it is pretty normal to be surprised! The tradition is to bring a piece of strain or thick stalk to your home a few days before Christmas, place it in some corner with a blanket so it does not get cold and feed it daily with remnants of food until the day to make the Tió defecate the gifts. There are homes where the Tió is simply a piece of wood, a piece of cork, or a box of different sizes as appropriate for the space and sizes of the gifts that will have to be shattered; there are also houses where it is an authentic pice of art with eyes, barretina, legs, mouth and nose.
In recent years, more and more Tionas have been appearing in Catalan homes. The Tió has ceased to be a male figure and now there are both options: the Tió and the Tiona, with all kinds of hair, make-up and clothes in a whole range of colours.