Caga Tio - The Blot Log

by Carles Jiménez

Long time ago decembers were covered by snow too...
From a little house in the middle of white fields a man outs to the shed. He takes a log. It’s not a special one. Not too big, not too small, no with special bark or color. It’s just a log for a proper fire.
He puts the log in the very better house’s place: the kitchen. Near the fireplace, and near the meal reserves from the harvests the
family has just stored during the year. Children will take care of the log, covering it with a blanket, until the winter solstice, “feeding” and caring it.
And suddenly, the log becomes Caga Tió (untranslatable,
but something like Shitting Firebrand)
The winter solstice night is here. The children are around the log.
Each one has a stick in his hands.
Then the children, one by one, beat the log for it
shits the presents and they sing a song:

Caga Tió, avellanes i turró,
no caguis arengades,
que són salades
caga turrons
que són més bons.


After the beats and songs, they uncover the blanket, finding some
sweets for the celebration night. Finally, the log leaves a herring, and that’s when the party is over. The father takes the log putting it into the fireplace, giving thanks for the forest’s fruits during the winter: the wood will be used for fire and the fire, for cooking, for heating and giving light during the
shortest days of the year.

This simple blot was a powerful initiation ceremony for the children into the nature basic function: if you take care of it, you’ll get a reward.
As we can see, the children take care of the log knowing that, after the strain of beats, it will give them sweets. It’s the same that sowing the fields to get a proper harvest. The stick beats can also be easily linked with the act of dicking the fields while the children’s song is like the traditional songs sang by the peasants during the harvest. A mix of physical work and cultural heritage. So, the children enter into the peasant’s culture.
They treasure is nature, who will provide its benefits for work.
With time, the children became the responsible of seeking the log, which means a more active participation into the blot. But the level of life was changing, and be comes easier and more generous. Fire, water, food can be easily bought here in the “first world”. So the benefits of the
log were look down and it is only kept in some houses which
transformed it into a strictly children stuff: a log with a draw face
(becoming a fantastic being more than the original nature representation), smoking pipe and with barretina (traditional hat from Catalunya).
And now it only shits toys, The log is not burned on the fire house, it’s keep it on the back of the closet for the next year. The original ceremony is over…

Time passes, old traditions change, others disappeared, others were
forgotten. Caga Tió was forgotten for a long, long time and almost
disappeared of the Catalonian life, Santa Claus occupiying its place.
But certain traditions are here to stay. So, in the lasts years a reborn of the Caga Tió is happening. Even if all the natural meaning has disappeared, the ritual character (the care of the log, the song, the
beating with a stick…) is still live.

The log is back home.

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