Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Weirdest Holiday Traditions: the Tió

Look at this little guy. Doesn't he look adorable and toasty warm wrapped up in his blanky?

Hello! I'm the tió!

Now let's set the holiday mood: Imagine it's Christmas and the tree is all set up and glowing. The children are in the living room taking care of their pet log, feeding it cookies and milk like any normal kid would. In walk Mom and Dad holding sticks. "Okay, kids," Mom says. "If you want your presents you have to beat the crap out of the log--literally."

And so begins the pooping of the tió, one of the most beloved holiday traditions in Catalonia.

Say what?

Let's get the basics:

The Tió de Nadal (Christmas log) is a very widespread Catalan tradition (also celebrated in neighboring regions just outside Catalonia). During the month of December, families set up the tió as part of their holiday decoration (I got a small one just under my tree). Children feed it a little bit each day so that, come Christmas, it'll be fat and ready to poop. Yup. Poop. That's the whole point of the tió: you gotta make it real fat so it'll poop out tons of presents. Some families buy various sized tiós, in order to "make it grow" as the days go by. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (depending on the home), it's time to get together as a family and beat the crap outta the tió.

Say what?

Okay, okay, I swear people actually do this! A lot of people! Many city halls even set up tiós in parks and plazas so kids can go whack it. There are even several songs to go along with the whacking process. Here are a couple, along with loose translations:
Different types of turró.

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

Poop tió,

Poop turró [nougat candy],
hazelnuts and mató [type of fresh cheese]
if you don't poop well
I'll hit you with a cane!
Poop tió! [And the beating continues.] 

And another one:

Caga tió,
Delicious mató cheese with honey.
tió de Nadal,
no caguis arengades,
que són massa salades!
Caga torrons
que són més bons!

Poop tió,
Christmas log,
don't poop herrings,
they're too salty!
Poop turrons, [nougat candy]
they're more delicious!

So what does the tió actually poop? Smaller presents, similar to what we would call stocking stuffers in the US. Some also poop nougat candies, chocolates, or even a dried herring to indicate it's done pooping. All this, of course is planted by the adults under the tió's convenient blanket while the kids are distracted and out of the room. There's usually something for everyone, though the kids understandably get the big poopie haul. "Look, honey! Your Tió pooped out Dora the Explorer!" (This sentence was actually spoken at my sister-in-law's home.)

So let's just leave that there, mmmkay?

Let the festivities commence!

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh... This sound freakin amazing! There's poop and presents and an adorable log. I wish I had one of these as a kid, lol. Seriously, this is so adorable. :D


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