Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Introducing........CAGA TIO!

This is Caga Tio. I first heard of Caga Tio when I visited the Catalonia region of Spain about two years ago! Caga (pronounced Caca) means poop and Tio means tree trunk or Uncle. In Spain, I met some friends of Jur's who had children and we discussed life in Spain. I always like to ask about local holidays and traditions. I kept hearing them refer to Caga Tio. I finally had to ask "who is this pooping Uncle you keep talking about?"

Apparently Caga Tio appears on the Feast of The Immaculate Conception (December 8th).  He is generally a small piece of wood with a face painted on it and two front legs. He is kept like a pet for the next month. He is fed and kept warm by the children. If they do this he will grow! Every few days he gets bigger.

(Top Secret info here.... Rudy and Manon (Jur's friends in Spain) say THEY actually replace the Caga Tio every few days. (I was a bit disappointed to find out Spain does not actually have logs that grow if you feed them.)

Rudy says "Yesth it is easy, I justth go outthside and find a piecth of wood and paint anothther faceth on it."

Although it is easy for Manon and Rudy because they live out in the country. The poor Catalonian urban parents have to trek out to the woods to find larger and larger Caga Tios or secretly buy them from Caga Tio shops and hide them around the house.

By the time Christmas Eve or Christmas day has arrived Caga Tio is full grown (full being the important word here). The tradition was you would put part of Caga Tio in the fire to get him ready to do his thing but NOW since many people do not have fireplaces he is usually put in the center of the living room covered in his large red blanket and ready for the festivities to begin. Children gather around the Caga Tio with sticks and hit him. They hit him over and over and sing wonderful classic holiday songs (that we all know and love) such as

caga tió, caga torró, avellanes i mató, si no cagues bé et daré un cop de bastó. caga tió!"...translated it means...poop log, poop Spanish Candy, hazelnuts and cottage cheese, if you don't poop well, I'll hit you with a stick, poop log!

Perhaps those of you in Church choirs or who are annual Carolers' would like to try this song out this year!

I also learned that getting children to sing songs and hit a log until it poops gifts is a great way to keep them busy and exhaust them. Once the Caga Tio has been tortured enough he is ready to "relieve" himself! Traditionally he poops small gifts like candies, trinkets, coins and such but apparently over the years he has become more "regular" or "capable" and all kinds of gifts poop out! I couldn't help but a Plasma Screen TV? Or an Easy Bake Oven? My goodness..... He used to traditionally poop fruit. A favorite was dried figs which would be shared with all those present. That tradition has faded and I assume it is because they realized that it my opinion they realized it is a bit too realistic.

(More TOP SECRET Info: Apparently a parent stands behind the Caga Tio and as the children sing it is announced that Caga Tio is pooping and slides a gift from under the blanket. (so he does not ACTUALLY poop!) Or another way is the blanket is lifted to reveal all that Caga Tio has pooped.

You know Caga Tio is all "pooped" out when he poops a salted herring or urinates. I never found out how that is done exactly but I feel I know enough already. The herring was the inspiration for the Classic Christmas song.....

caga tió, tió de Nadal, no caguis arengades, que són massa salades caga torrons que són més bons!" .....translated......poop log, log of Christmas, don't poop herrings, which are too salty, poop Spanish candy which is much better!

Then while everyone plays with Caga Tio's poop gifts you burn him for warmth!

I became instantly fascinated with Caga Tio! I felt the need to celebrate the Caga Tio. He was my new Christmas theme that year. I decided to send out to all my friends and loved ones Christmas Cards of the Caga Tio. I probably should have thought this out more. Apparently people receiving a picture of children beating a log as it poops gifts is not very traditional and rather unexpected in the United States for the holidays. I think I may have upset or offended a few more spiritual friends and family. That year, in return, I received, by far, the most "spiritual" holiday cards I have ever received. Reminders that "Jesus is the reason for the Season" and all kinds of Nativity scene prints. Despite this I was too filled with my excitement of the Caga Tio! I still wanted to do more to share him with all.

My dear friend Rob provided me with the way to do this. He was in Spain with me during the Caga Tio discovery. He, too, was fascinated with Caga Tio (he has always been a bit to fascinated with poo in my opinion). Rob, being as crafty as he is, made me an entire basket of Caga Tio ornaments. I was thrilled. Guess what everyone I loved was getting for Christmas this year? Caga Tio Ornaments! Hopefully they will be better received then the year I gave out German traditional lucky Pickle ornaments as gifts. Another of my favorites. Apparently I was mostly alone in my enthusiasm for both of these. I know this because this past Christmas I went from house to house of friends and family to find my Caga Tio ornament on their trees. I often would find my rejected Caga Tio hung low and to the back and "coincidently" often next to my Pickle!

I still celebrate the Caga Tio (and the Pickle) and I encourage you and yours to consider adding him to your Christmas traditions!

P.S . you can find youTube videos of people celebrating the Caga Tio!  Catalonian Children even get to do Caga Tio at school! I am kind of bitter that I never got to do the Caga Tio at school!

P.P.S.  there is also the tradition of adding a pooping figure of a Man to the VERY back of a Nativity sets (I do not mean to offend I am just reporting.)  This began when there was a "small" feud between Spain and the Italian Church.  I guess this was their way of showing some slight disdain to the Church.
Well.... at least they put up the Nativity Set.


  1. How unpoopular this would be here, but the history lesson was most promising as always...your fan, Rayn

  2. I have been to Catalonia for two Christmases and never notice any Caga Tios. I guess I just wasn't paying enough attention. Lovely!