Caga Tio – Catalonia’s Wacky Present-Pooping Christmas Log

Caga Tio is a Christmas tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. Caga is pronounced caca, and it means ‘poop’. Tio means ‘tree trunk’ or ‘uncle’. So it is basically a tradition of the pooping tree trunk. What does the trunk poop? Why gifts, of course!

The Caga Tio is a small log of wood with a painted face and two front legs. It makes an appearance in homes every year on the 8th of December, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep the log as a pet until Christmas, feeding it and keeping it warm. They believe the log will grow if they feed it properly.

There is no such thing as a growing log, of course. The parents actually replace the logs every few days with larger ones. It’s easy for families who live in the country; they just go outside, find a piece of wood and paint a face on it. Urban parents have a tougher time. They have to trek into the woods to find larger Caga Tios. But mostly they just buy new ones from shops. The Caga Tio is done growing by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The full grown log is placed in the center of the living room and covered with a large red blanket. Children gather around, sing songs and hit the Caga Tio with sticks repeatedly, until it ‘poops’ out the presents. Earlier, the tradition was to place the log partially in fire, ordering it to defecate. There aren’t many modern households with fireplaces anymore, so now it’s just down to hitting the log.


Photo: Toniher

One of the most popular songs is the Caga Tio song, it goes something like this:

“Caga tió,

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

Which means:

shit, log,
shit nougats,
hazelnuts and mató cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
shit, log!

This is by far one of the most hilarious songs I’ve ever heard. I’m sure it sounds adorable, coming from children.


Photo: Slastic

According to tradition, before beating the log, all the children have to leave the room and pray for the Tio to deliver many presents. This, of course, is the perfect opportunity for the adults to slip some under the blanket.

The tradition of Caga Tio is also sometimes called Tio de Nadal (Christmas Log). The ‘fully grown’ hollow log is about 30 cm long and stands up on two short legs on one end. A broad, smiling face is painted on the higher end, with a three-dimensional nose. A little red sock hat enhances the Caga Tio’s appearance. These are recent additions; in older times the Caga Tio was just a dead piece of wood.


Photo: Joan ggk

Presents pooped by the Tio are generally small in size – candies, nuts, confections, and sometimes even dried figs. When there is nothing left to defecate, it gives a salt herring, a piece of garlic, or an onion. In some households, it ‘urinates’ by leaving a bowl of water. Families share all the presents given by the Tio.

I really don’t know what to make of this strange tradition. The references to pooping (especially the dry figs) are bordering on gross. Also, if it were up to me, I’d teach the children to ‘ask nicely’, instead of beating up the log.


What do you think of this Spanish Christmas tradition?

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