Spain is home to some very curious traditions, and never more so than over the Christmas period. One of these bizarre customs is the Tió de Nadal o Caga Tió that is celebrated in the run up to Christmas Day.
Families in some places of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon, take care of what is known as a ‘pooping log’. The hollow log is around thirty centimetres long and it is propped on four stick legs, with a smiling face on one end and accessorised with a little red hat.
The Tió is given centre stage in the home and in the days before Christmas, the children must look after their special log. Tió is fed every night with small pieces of bread or orange peel and at night he is covered with a little blanket to keep him warm.
Tradition says that if the Tió is happy and well looked after, he will defecate presents on Christmas day. On December 25, excited families gather round as everyone begins to hit the Tió log with sticks, while also singing the traditional ‘Caga Tió’ song. They sing for the log to poo out presents and turrón (sweet nougat) and threaten the log with more blows if he doesn’t.
In the past, children were asked to leave the room and pray for presents before beating the Tió with their sticks, giving relatives the chance to put the gifts under the blanket.
Tió never drops big presents as they are always brought by the Three Wise Men on January 6. Depending on the region, it will generally leave candles, nuts, nougat and small toys. What comes out of the Tió are shared gifts and tokens to be shared by the whole family.