Catalan Christmas traditions tend toward the weird. With that may I introduce…
CAJA TIO – the pooping log!
Also known as Tio de Nadal, Caja Tio is a staple of Catalan Christmas tradition. The basic gist is that a household has this wooden log sculpture, typically 30 centimeters long, in their house for the holiday season.
Starting on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th), the “tio” is fed a bit of “food” (candy or something similar), and is kept “comfortable” by covering it in a blanket. This continues until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, when the log is placed in the fireplace and ignited, then beaten with a stick until it “defecates” its treasures. (In recent years, the decreasing commonality of fireplaces has many families skipping the immolation aspect of the Christmas Eve/Day culmination of festivities.)
The beating of Caja Tio tends to also involve singing songs in praise – or perhaps sarcastic spite – of the holiday log. This was famously immortalized by Norah Jones on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Holiday Special in 2011.
Another Catalan tradition around Christmas is the addition of a Caganer figurine to the nativity scene. A cajaner is a person in the act of defecation (the term literally translates to “the crapper” or “the shitter”), and is typically represented by a peasant in Catalan dress. Learn more about this strange figure here.
This post is part of sprite’s Virtual Advent Tour 2018. Click here for more info.