It's Christmas Eve. Have You Fed Your Poop Log?

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 24 2013 8:40 AM

Feeding the Poop Log: A Catalan Christmas Tradition

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

It's Christmas Eve, which means children across Spain's Catalan region are gathering in their homes for the traditional whacking of the festive shit log.

Tió de Nadal (Christmas log), a hollow log with stick legs, a smiley face, and a floppy red hat, is a yule branch with a scatological spin. (Its other name is Caga Tió, or "shit log," for reasons that will shortly become apparent.)

Advertisement

On December 8 each year — the Feast of the Immaculate Conception — families bring out the happy log. Every night until December 24, children are tasked with "feeding" the log by offering him nuts, dried fruit, and water. Kids must also cover Tió de Nadal with a blanket to ensure he stays warm and comfortable.

On Christmas Eve, it is time for the little shit log to shine. Children gather around the red-hatted branch and beat him with sticks while singing the traditional Tió de Nadal song:

Shit log,
Shit nougats,
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don't shit well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Shit log!

Then comes the miracle: the kids look under Tió de Nadal's blanket and discover that the dear log has pooped out a pile of candies and presents. (The end of the defecation session is signaled by the presence of a stinky herring.) When everyone has collected their gifts from Tió de Nadal, the family burns him for warmth.

The poop log is not Catalonia's only defecation-based festive tradition. Take a close look at any nativity scene in the area and you'll spot Caganer, a porcelain man copping a squat in the presence of Mary, Joseph, and the Three Wise Men. Caganer is not meant to be sacreligious — his fertilization of the holy ground heralds a prosperous harvest in the new year.

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 23 2014 10:30 AM Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 11:34 AM Louis C.K. Crashes a Brad Pitt Interview on Between Two Ferns
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.