Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tió De Nadal, or Nothing Says Christmas Like A Poop Log...If You Are In Spain

Tió de Nadal, a “pooping” Christmas log, is an obsession among the kids in Catalunya for a few weeks leading into the holidays.  It usually starts on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.   Part of the ancient tradition of burning a Yule log in the hearth at Christmastime, these days it is a short trunk of wood propped up by two front legs, with a smile, pug nose, and floppy red felt Catalan hat called a Barretina.  Wrapped in a blanket and placed beside the fireplace.  Every night it is “fed” Clementine and potato peels until the evening of the 23rd or 24th of December.  Sometimes, the logs are hollowed out (via the face) and candies are put inside for future treats.  Tootsie rolls?
The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men.  It does leave candies, nuts and torrons.  Depending on the region 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 it "urinates" by leaving a bowl of water. What comes out of the Tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone there.

On that night, the family gathers around and the kids whack the log with a stick while chanting at the top of their voices, "Ca-ga-ti-o, Ca-ga-ti- o!" (Poop log!  Poop log!") and singing a short song about poopiing torro (almond and honey nougat called turron in Sapnish) and oranges instead of salted herring or charcoal.  They then reach under the blanket and find pieces of torro (and often a small present) that has been "pooped out."   
 Around Catalunya, homes resound with chanting versions of the song.  Schools have an enormous Tió that kids bring scraps from home to feed.  The offerings look like rich mounds of compost.  Sometimes Tió is whacked so vigorously that the sticks are broken and have to be replaced. 
To make the log defecate, one beats the tió with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.  There are many versions of the Tió song, but the standard one goes like this:
Cago tió   (Poop log)
Tió de Nadal   (Trunk of Christmas)
No caguis arengades   (Don’t poop herring)
Que són salades  (Which are salty)
Caga torrons   (Poop nougat)
Que són més bons   (Which are much tastier)
Caga taronges   (Poop oranges)
Que són Ben Dolces  (that are very sweet)
There are several versions of this ditty.  And if you’ve been around kids, you know how they love saying “poop.”  Another version goes:
Poop log, log of Christmas
We will put the pork in salt
The hen at the trough
And the chick on top of the pine tree
Play, play Valentine
Oxen and cows pass
Hens with shoes
And roosters with big shoes (*blink*)
Run, run children
Because the aunty is making nougat
The Vicar has tasted them
And he says they are a bit salty
Oh the donkey, oh the pig
Oh the face, face, face
Of the donkey, oh the pig
Oh the face of a pepper.
….and sometimes, for good measure they add:
Trunk of Christmas
Poop neules (a rolled wafer biscuit) and nougat
And piss champagne…”I pixa xampany!”  Don’t we all?


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