WTF: Catalans love Christmas poo

When you stop and think about it, Father Christmas seems a little odd, but that is nothing – literally nothing, compared to the Catalan Christmas poopers.  In Catalonia, rather than rosy-cheeked Santa, the Catalans celebrate Caga Tio.  Caga Tio means Poo Log or Uncle Poo – and that’s quite literally what he is: a pooing log.

Caga Tio is a Santa Claus with a hell of a difference.  Firstly, while Santa Claus pops down the chimney on the 24th, Caga Tio poops in long before then.  Two weeks before Christmas, Catalan children traditionally fetch a log, Caga Tio, from the forest and then proceed to care for their pet log.  Each night, they feed him and tuck him up at bedtime and each morning they find he’s grown into a larger log.

This may seem an endearing tradition, similar to leaving out carrots for Santa’s reindeers, but all is not as it seems.  These children are not angelically caring for a poor abandoned log: they have a plan.  They know that the better they care for their log, the more presents (traditionally turron sweets) he will poop out at Christmas.

Unfortunately, for Caga Tio, he doesn’t just pop one out with a satisfying plop.  Instead, the children have to “encourage” the constipated Caga Tio by hitting him with sticks whilst singing.  They don’t sing the classics like ‘Let it poo’ and ‘All I want for Christmas is poo’, but a special song for the pooing log.  It goes like this: “Caga Tio, Caga Tio, If you don’t poo well, we’ll hit you with a stick”.  It’s not quite as endearing as singing ‘Little Saint Nick’, is it?

Eventually, “encouraged” by the song and the sticks, the log releases a torrent of turron (nougat) from his bowels.  At this point, the children will lift the blanket to munch on their prizes while they burn their Uncle Poo on the fire. Charming!

But the celebration of poo doesn’t end at Caga Tio, the Catalans celebrate yet another pooing figure at Christmas: the caganer. And, at this point, this fartastic tradition gets even weirder.

At Christmas, Catalans like many nationalities display small nativity scenes, known as pesebres.  But unlike many cultures, inside the stable, you’ll spot an extra character who will be, well, … squatting.

Named as originally as Caga Tio, this Christmas figurine is simply known as the “poo-er” or “caganer” in Catalan.  And he won’t just be squatting.  In the birthplace of Jesus, you will see this bare-bummed man balanced over a miniature poo.  I mean, why leave it to the imagination?


Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking this might be a little disrespectful.  Going to the toilet in a church would surely be frowned upon, let alone in the birthplace of Jesus Christ.  However, do not fear; Catalans assure me that the caganer’s behind is always placed respectfully to the rear of Jesus.  Reassuring!

So there you have it, a Catalan Christmas is about defecating idols.  For Catalans, the “poo log” and the “pooer” are as common place as Mary and Joseph in the Christmas tradition.  Yet, for foreigners the celebrations can seem bizarre – understatement!  But as they say, when in Catalonia, poo as the Catalans poo and there seems nothing for it but to embrace the Ghost of Christmas poo.

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