Before we all pack the decorations away and begin the laborious task of vacuuming pine needles out of the carpet, let’s have a final Christmas related journal entry. This post is mostly for the attention of boingboing.net subscribers who read the story about the Catalan caganer tradition and the caga tio character.
Customs surrounding caga tio differ, but all agree, caga tio means “shit log.” Here I relay to you what I think is the full blown caga tio ritual.
Fifteen days before Christmas, caga tio makes his appearance in the dining room, where he must be fed at least once every day. He likes oranges, crackers and sweet wine. In some families, caga tio starts small, but grows as the days progress toward Christmas.
At some point, caga tio is moved out of the dining room, into the living room, and covered with a blanket to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve, before the traditional Christmas dinner, the kids are sent to their rooms to say three Our Fathers, which gives the elders enough time to stash presents under caga tio’s blanket. After their prayers are done, the kids return to the living room and start beating the hell out of poor caga tio with big sticks. And they sing a song. One version goes “Shit, log, shit! If you don’t shit well, we will whack you again!” Another goes “Log, log, shit candy! If you don’t shit for Christmas, we will whack you once more!”
After the children have gotten their fill of flogging the log, the blanket is removed to determine caga tio’s state of digestion. Typically, a miracle has occurred, and the log has pooped wrapped gifts, which are called “the shits.” Often one of the shits will be something weird, like an egg, to let everyone know that it was the last one deposited by caga tio.
I’m indebted to Dave Thau for submitting this information. For the last three years I’ve been witnessing this ritual with neither an explanation or subtitles to help me get to grips with it. If you’re a parent with a child who likes watching the Teletubbies then it’s quite possible you’ve been witnessing it too, since the whole event can be seen on the video Teletubbies and the Snow.
As well as the usual high jinks that take place around the Teletubbie house, the video is interspersed with footage of children from around the world celebrating Christmas. About half way through the video you can see a group of Catalan children thoroughly enjoying their assault of the shit log. Twice. Again, again, again! shout the Teletubbies.
On reflection I’m glad that neither my children or I had the faintest idea what was going on or being said. It’s nearly as bad as the time that Auntie Mabel and her dog, Pippin, visited the sewage plant. At 6:30am. Whilst I was eating my breakfast. Look Pippin! Look at all that poo! Can you see your’s?
For those of you eager to experience the abuse of caga tio I’ve uploaded some screen captures onto flickr.com and made use of the slideshow feature: The Caga Tio Show (and I’ve added notes to the photo set).
Ho, ho, ho.