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The Catalan-Valencian cultural domain

Photograph of a typicalcontemporary Tió

Photograph of a typical contemporary Tió
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The Tió de Nadal (roughly "Christmas Log"), also known as "Tió" (trunk or log, a big piece of cut wood) or "Tronca" ("log") and popularly called "Caga tió" (pooping or defecating log in English), is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia. A similar tradition exists in other places such as the cachafuòc or soc de Nadal in Occitania, or the Tizón de Nadal or Tronca de Nabidá in Aragon, regions with a common history.

The form of the tió de Nadal found in many Catalan homes during the holiday season is a hollow log of about thirty centimetres length. Recently, the tió has come to stand up on two or four little stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on the higher of the two ends, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional Catalan barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose. Those accessories have been added only in recent times, altering the more traditional and rough natural appearance of a dead piece of wood.

Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to "eat" every night and usually covers him with a little blanket so that he will not be cold at night.

On Christmas day or, depending on the particular household, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to "poop" (the fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread as it once was, since many modern homes do not have a fireplace). To make him "poop", one beats him with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are brought by the Three Wise Men. It does leave candies, nuts and torrons. Depending on the part of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. When nothing is left to "poop", it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or "urinates". What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.

Beating the Tió de Nadal

In addition to the names listed in the opening paragraph, the additional nickname "Caga Tió" ("pooping log")[1] derives from the many songs of Tió de Nadal that begin with this phrase, which was originally (in the context of the songs) an imperative ("Poop, log"). The use of this expression as a name is not believed to be part of the ancient tradition.

The tradition of the tió could be related to that of the Christmas tree.

Here is a song of the "caga tió":

caga tió,

caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!"

poop log,

poop turrón,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don't poop well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
poop log!

An alternate version goes something like this:

caga tió,

tió de Nadal,
no caguis arengades,
que són massa salades
caga torrons
que són més bons!"

poop log,

log of Christmas,
don't poop herrings,
which are too salty,
poop turrón
which is much better!

After hitting it softly with a stick during the song it is hit harder on the words "caga tió!". Then somebody puts his hand under the blanket and takes a gift. The gift is opened and then the song begins again. There are many such songs: these are just examples.

See also

References

  1. ^ A continental Christmas
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