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What It’s Like to Celebrate Caga Tio in Spain

As we continue with our Holiday Celebrations Around the World series, I am excited to introduce Mar from Once in a Lifetime Journey sharing her thoughts on the celebration of Caga Tio in Catalunya, Spain. It’s not your typical holiday celebration, but one I definitely wanted to learn more about and share with others. I hope you enjoy Mar’s post as much as I do.

Caga Tio in Catalunya Spain Holidays Around the World-Kids Are A Trip

What is Caga Tio?

Memories of my childhood and Christmas go hand in hand with a large nativity with figurines of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as well as the shepherds and the Three Wise Men which we used to put up at home. We would go to the forest to collect moss which would go under the figurines and then put up a representation of the Birth of Jesus. It was a lot of fun to advance the Three Wise Men every day until they reached little Jesus on the day of the gift exchange in Spain: 6th of January.

Caga Tio in Catalunya Spain Pessebre-Kids Are A Trip
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Caga Tio in Catalunya, Spain

In Catalunya, the traditions also include a gift exchange on the eve of Christmas Day. Whereas in most of Spain Christmas Eve is big, in Catalunya it wasn’t so much of a tradition and what most families used to do (and still do) is what is called in Catalan, Caga Tio, translating, literally to a “pooping log”. I know, this sounds not only weird but also gross. How can a log poop, you may ask? It does so after you beat it with a tree branch long enough while singing a song. Curious yet?

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Caga Tio is a pagan tradition and one whose origins are unclear but the reality of the tradition goes as follows. As kids, you believe in the Three Wise Men, the equivalent in Spain of Santa Claus which does not exist other than in commercial ads, and they also believe that if they feed the log every day, it will eventually “poop” gifts. But not before beating it well.

On the eve of Christmas Day, we would get branches from the forest, as I lived in the countryside, and would go and wet the branches in a pot with water in another room. In the meantime, our parents would hide the gifts under the log and cover it with a blanket. When we would be called to come back, the gifts would be well hidden and we would start with our singing and beating. When the song would end, we would lift the blanket to find the great gifts our parents had hid.

It sounds silly, but it was a lot of fun and, of course, since we were just kids, we believed the log had brought them to us because we had fed it properly for the previous two weeks and because we had been good kids. The operation would go on and go, every time with new gifts, until the log would poop us charcoal, or an orange, to indicate the gifts were over. Other people may use other symbols to indicate the gifts are over like garlic or onions.

Caga Tio in Catalunya Spain for Everyone-Kids Are A Trip
Everyone joins in the fun!
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Today, logs are sold in Christmas Markets and come painted with faces and have legs and hats, but when I was a kid we would simply go to the forest and pick up a log which we would take care of until Christmas Eve.

Caga Tio in Catalunya Spain Decorations-Kids Are A Trip
Photo credit: Creative Commons

Be sure to check out our Recipes from Around the World and Holiday Celebrations Around the World as we travel to: Australia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Japan, India, Sweden, Germany, and London.

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About the author: Mar is an ultra-frequent traveler and serial expat. She used to take a flight to an exotic destination every week for ten years until she realized that she wanted to go on last minute Tuesday night drinks with friends and sleep on her bed more than three nights a week. She started her blog, Once in a lifetime journey, focusing on the type of travel that she loves doing: luxury and out of the ordinary. You will find her equally at a high-end resort and somewhere you have never heard of. She has visited almost 90 countries and is a member of the Traveler’s Century Club.

43 Comments

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I love hearing about holiday traditions in other cultures. I find it so interesting to hear what they do!

  2. I love learning about Christmas traditions all over the world. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Blythe A. says:

    Seeing other cultural celebrations is so interesting. These logs are adorable. I bet they are fun to make.

  4. I’ve heard about this but to hear it described first hand is so interesting. I love learning more about other cultures and traditions x

  5. What a neat idea! A “pooping log” is an interesting twist that’s for sure. So much more fun to actually decorate the face instead of buying one already painted.

  6. How fun to learn about holiday traditions in other cultures! The Christmas market seems so exciting!

  7. This did make me laugh-pooping log- but nevertheless deeply fascinating at the same time. I like how you linked to context and like I had explored in my article so many Christmas traditions derive from Pagan rites.

  8. OMG, those are the cutest thing ever. I love to hear how people around the world celebrate different holidays and really enjoyed reading about yours! Happy holidays to you!

  9. Thanks Jessica! They are so cute aren’t they! Happy holidays to you!

  10. I lived in SPAIN but I had no idea about this unique celebration! Haha, so cute.

  11. I lived in Spain for a summer, so I missed this festive celebration. Lots of fun isn’t it?

  12. Isn’t that crazy? A log that poops presents? What will they think of next?

  13. Thanks Beth!

  14. I agree Heather. I think my kids would definitely prefer to decorate their own, but the ones in the market look cute!

  15. Thanks Claire! Happy holidays to you!

  16. Don’t they look cute? A great craft idea for next year!

  17. Thanks Leah!

  18. Thanks Robin, I appreciate it!

  19. I’ve never heard of this before. I went to Spain in high school and loved it. Such a great country!

  20. This was a fascinating read! Thank you for sharing this, I love to read about different cultural holiday traditions!

  21. Wow thats awesome! Cultures around the world are so interesting

  22. It’s always facinate me learning about other cultures and tradition. How interesting that different cultures share the same essence of a good deed from diffrent form of deliverer (Santa or “pooping log”). Really nice post..

  23. I don’t think I have ever heard of this pooping log before! What an interesting tradition. I love to hear about different cultures and their celebrations though, it is incredibly interesting!

  24. A pooping log is quite interesting isn’t it? You learn something new every day right?

  25. Thanks Rose! It really is fascinating isn’t it?

  26. I agree!

  27. Thanks Kelly!

  28. CourtneyLynne says:

    I majored in history so hearing how others celebrate holidays always fascinated me!!!!

  29. These traditions sound like so much fun! You always just make me want to travel the world!!!

  30. Thanks Susannah! Always happy to help!

  31. Cool! I love learning about history!

  32. It’s always cool to learn about our cultures and their traditions and celebrations. Very nice post!

  33. That is such an interesting custom
    I love that Santa is only in commercial ads and not the main attraction to Christmas.

  34. I never heard of this, and I enjoyed reading all about these traditions. Growing up in an Air Force family, I have always been intrigued by other cultures. Thanks for sharing!

  35. I love that too!

  36. Thanks Diedre! Happy New Year!

  37. alicia szemon says:

    i love the faces! how cute! looks like they are having fun

  38. So cute!

  39. Ashley Morris says:

    Wow, that’s interesting! I love learning about other cultures. What would you feed the logs?

  40. Interesting question. I have no idea!

Comments are closed.