My friend Stephen posted about a mysterious log for most of last week – not an Anglo Yule log, but something called Caga Tió. He posted a video of children whipping a log, and then it became clear that he was making a whipping log of his own. Further messages and photos appeared; the log had a happy face, two front legs, and a jaunty red hat. He named the log Tornado. Tornado was reading the newspaper, enjoying some breakfast, and getting ready to poop on Christmas Eve. What was this all about?
Then the Fabulous Lasker Sisters came to our house on Christmas day, and presented Benny and me with…
a Caga Tió of our very own, and told us the story of this wonderful little guy, who hails from the Catalan region of Spain. Starting at the second week of December, you give the tió something to eat every night and also cover him with a blanket so he doesn’t get cold. Then on Christmas Eve (or sometimes Christmas Day), you force him to poop by hitting him with sticks and singing songs. Caga Tió will then shit out various sweet treats for you. When he is done, he shits out a sardine (or a herring, or an onion) and that’s that.
There are many Caga Tió songs, but the one the Fabulous Lasker Sisters sang for us was a variant on this one:
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
log of Christmas,
don’t shit sardines,
they are too salty,
which is much better!
Forty-one years old is awfully late to be hearing about a myth as incredible as this one, but better late than never. I think we have a new Christmas tradition in this household.