Every country has their own traditions, and that is especially true when it comes to the holidays. Italy has Befana, the kind, old witch similar to Santa Claus. The Balkan countries have Krampus, the anthropomorphic version of coal and a stick. And in Venezuela, people roller-skate to Christmas mass. The Catalans have their own Christmas traditions including Caga Tió (Poop Log) and El Caganer (The Crapper). Caga Tió (Tió de Nadal) is somewhat similar to the Santa Claus in that he gives you gifts. He's dissimilar in that he poops them out for you. This poop log is literally a log with a face painted on and he's typically wearing a Barretina which is the traditional red Catalan cap. Children are to take care of Caga Tió throughout the Christmas season so that he will give them candy and presents on Christmas day. Beginning on the immaculate conception, the log must be kept warm (usually with a blanket) and fed nightly (usually by putting a treat or a few nuts under his face).
On Christmas morning the children go into a separate room and pray that Caga Tió will bring them treats. Spoiler Alert: While doing this, their parents hide presents under Caga Tió's blanket.
Once done praying, the children sing the Caga Tió song while beating the log with a stick. The Catalan song goes like this:
Avellanes i mató,
Si no cagues bé,
Et daré un cop de bastó.
Roughly translated, the song means this:
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don't poop well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Once done with the song, the children reach under the blanket to find what their log has pooped out for them! The spread of gifts usually includes candies, nuts, and dried fruits. So this seems ridiculous and hilarious, but let's be honest, is this that much weirder than a jolly, old fat man who flies around on reindeer?
El Caganer is another Catalan Christmas tradition that is somewhat equally vulgar, but with an important message. Many of you may be familiar with the book “Everybody Poops.” Catalans introduce this message into the nativity scene with El Caganer, which translates to The Crapper.
Yep, it's a statue bent over taking a poo. To be fair, in the 1700s when El Caganer was introduced, it is thought that he was a symbol of “fertilizing the ground” for the future. Since the 1700s the tradition has persisted, and along the way it has taken on new meaning. Today many pop-culture icons are made into versions of The Crapper. You can find presidents, professional athletes, queens, Star Wars characters and even the Pope made into Crapper figurines. The modern day meaning is that no matter who you are, everyone poops the same way.
So what have we learned today?
- Every country has weird traditions. Your traditions just seem normal to you because you grew up with them.
- Everybody poops the same way.
- If we combine all the traditions of different countries we get more presents and treats for the holidays, so we should probably do that.
Hope you are enjoying your holiday festivities!