Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another funny/different Catalan Christmas tradition – El Tio de Nadal

I love this, learning about funny Christmas traditions in this new country of mine. Like the Caganer that I talked about a few days ago. Now it’s the Tio de Nadal’s turn. In Spanish, this literally this means “uncle  Christmas” but let’s not get confused. According to Anirac who left me a comment on this post, tio means trunk/log in Catalan, and it makes sense as we are not talking of an uncle, rather a wooden log! 

Most family homes have one, and at the Christmas market you could buy them in all sizes, the smaller ones just for decorations though. Cause the real ones need to be hollow and about 30 centimeters long, and should have legs and a painted face. 

During December one should feed the log a little bit every night, and cover him with a blanket so that he won’t be cold. And then on Christmas eve/Christmas day he should be put up to shit. And for him to do so, the children need to beat him with a stick (-whaat??) while singing a special song of the “Tío de Nadal”.  And tam-tam! The shit, is presents!

However, the Tío doesn’t deliver big presents, cause these are brought by the Three Kings on 6th January, but he “drops off” different kinds of candy. What comes from the Tío is general presents to be shared by everyone present, rather than individual gifts. 

The song: 

Caga tío, caga torró, avellanas I mató. Si no cagues bé, et daré un cop de bastó, caga tío!
Caga tío, tío de Nadal, no cagues arengades, que son massa salads. Caga torró que son mes bons!

Shit log, shit turrón, hazelnuts and mató. If you don’t shit well, I’ll hit you with a stick, shit log!
Shit log, Christmas log, don’t shit herrings, which are too salty. Shit turrón which is much better!

At the Christmas market there is a “Tío gigant”, a giant Tío that the kids could come up and hit (…) As my friend said, “Whaaat? Here the children learn that by beating (!) that poor log they will be rewarded with presents? While in the north we learn that we need to be good and kind children for Santa to bring us presents?" 

I agree it’s a little weird. What do you think of this?


  1. Haha, latterkrampe! Verdens beste juletradisjon! Liker moralen bak dette. Først må du mate og være god mot kubben, før du kan slå den på julaften sånn at du får noe godt. Onkel Jul. Haha!

  2. Jo...litt 'rar'juletradisjon.... bilder da :-)

  3. hi!
    nice blog and photos (loved photos about calçots)!! I think there are a little confusion in this entry about spanish/catalan with the "tio"..."tio" means uncle in spanish, but means trunk (in particular for the chimney) in catalan!! :-)

    1. Thank you for your comment! I am so sorry that I didn't know that tio means trunk in Catalan!!! I will change it right away. *embarrased* Thank you for letting me know..