The Twelve Nightmares of Christmas, Day 3: Caga Tio

Okay, this one isn’t all that scary — it’s just plain weird.

There are lots of Christmas customs from all over the world: singing festive carols, leaving out cookies for Santa, feeding the log that poops out sweets … wait, what? You heard me. In Catalonia, Spain, “Caga Tio” is a hollow log decorated with a happy face at one end — and it “poops” out little presents from the other end.

Children care for Caga Tio from December 8 to Christmas Eve, feeding it orange peels, dry bread, or dried beans, and solicitously keeping it warm by covering it with a blanket. The more they pamper the log, the better the haul will be. Parents who play along, like the parents in the US who leave a plate of cookie crumbs and an empty milk glass for kids to find on Christmas morning, surreptitously replace Caga Tio with a bigger log every few days, to keep up the enchantment as the kids watch the log grow. The bigger the log gets, the more presents it will poop out. (Just follow me here, okay?)

On Christmas Eve, when Caga Tio is as big as he’s gonna get, the parents send the kids out of the room for a bit and tell them to pray for lots of presents. This gives the parents the opportunity to sneak the gifts under the blanket. Then the kids are invited back in, given a stick, and told to hit Caga Tio to make him poop out the presents. There’s a catchy little song to sing while you’re whaling away, too:

Poop, log, poop nougats,
hazelnuts and mató cheese,

don’t poop herring, it’s too salty,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
poop, log!

The blanket is then whisked away from the nether end of the log, revealing a pile of small presents, cookies, nuts, candies, and fruits. These treats are meant to be shared; bigger presents for each child are brought by the Three Kings.

Weird enough for you? No? Then head on over to Weird Darkness for another dose. Visit www.weirddarkness.com and see what Darren Marlar has cooked up for you today.

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