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Cagar el tió
Caga tió

On Christmas Eve, the children of the ‘Empordanet’ perform the ritual of cagar el tió, literally, ‘making the log shit’! This tradition, of pagan origin, is celebrated throughout Catalonia and is very deeply-rooted in our region.

The tió is a log which has to be prepared several days before Christmas: first of all, it is placed in a quiet, shaded corner and covered with a blanket. And then, most important of all, it has to be fed: and the more it eats, the more it will produce on the big day. Every night before bedtime, some food is placed under the blanket for it – luckily, it will eat all kinds of things – and in the morning, all the food will have disappeared into the log’s belly!
 
On the night of 24 December, either before or after dinner, the tió, now well fattened, is placed in the chosen place and all the family gather around. The children then have to go off to the other end of the house to pray for the tió to be generous; meanwhile, the adults wait beside the log, and when they think the children have prayed enough, they call them in and give each one a stick. The children then begin to hit the log with their sticks and sing a special song; the words vary from place to place and even from family to family, but a common version is this:
 
 Tió, tió, caga torró d’aquell tan bo,
 si no en tens més, caga diners,
 si no en tens prou, caga un ou.

Log, log, shit some of that nice torró,
If you haven’t got any more, shit some money,
If you haven’t got enough, shit an egg.

(Torró is a very popular almond nougat.) After hitting the log for a few minutes – the adults know from experience when to stop – the moment comes to lift the blanket and see what the log has produced. In the old days it used to bring the children sweets and chocolates, but nowadays it tends to be more generous and may shit toys, books, torró... and even things like socks and stockings for the adults! The operation is repeated a few more times, until a cabbage, a carrot or even a crumpled piece of paper appears under the blanket (there are many variations on this): this means that the tió can’t shit any more and has to be put away to rest until next Christmas.


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