If you've been keeping up with your whereisdarrennow, you might remember that last week I wrote about a Christmas tradition where folks here in Catalunya put a Caganer in their nativity scene. A Caganer is a statue of a person, real or made up, taking a poop (caga = poop in Catalan). The idea is that the Caganer is "fertilizing the earth" as a gesture of good luck for the coming year. It's an odd tradition but aren't most traditions a bit odd?
Well, just when I thought that this "crappy" Christmas tradition is fairly unusual, I came across...another Catalan fecal-related Christmas tradition. Outside world, meet the Tio Nadal:
Yep. It's a log with a face, a hat, two legs, and most importantly, a blanket covering it's butt. Tio Nadal means "Christmas log" in Catalan, which I guess is similar to saying "yule log" in English. The funny thing is how, when you're a kid, how you make fun of "yule log" as in "I finished my morning coffee and went and made a yule log." Who knows, maybe they're related.
The tradition goes something like kids would go out into the woods towards the beginning of advent and find a small stick to bring home and put into the corner with a blanket on it (to keep it warm). The kids would then take care of it. Over time, assuming proper care and feeding, the Tio Nadal would grow in size until Christmas came. SPOILER ALERT: Kids skip the next sentence. The parents would periodically replace the Tio Nadal with successively larger versions until Christmas. On Christmas day, presents would shoot out his butt so size would matter and you wanted to take care of your Tio so that he'd be big and really full!
While out looking at Christmas lights with David and Diana, we went by the Santa Lucia market. There, up on a stage, where in the U.S. kids might be sitting on Santa's lap, there were kids beating on a giant Tio Nadal with sticks!
(If you look carefully at the right side of the round part of the sign in the background above, you'll see a Caganer doing his "duty".)
The violence that befalls the Tio Nadal is part of the tradition. The kids sing a song that basically says that if you don't poop me some candy (or presents of some type) I'll beat you with a stick until you "produce some" (out your butt).
Nice. Beating the poor Tio Nadal with a stick until he takes a dump. Welcome to CAGA-lunya I guess!
By the way, I think I found a suitable part-time job for me for next Christmas. I want to be the guy "offloading" the Tio Nadal at the Santa Lucia market:
Can I just say that I love me some unusual traditions, especially when there's kids involved. The kids that I saw were happy campers when they got their back-door-Christmas delivery.