Today’s blog is from Laurie Loftin, who is definitely starting a new family tradition today
There are several types of logs you might associate with the Christmas season. Perhaps the burning of the yule log is the first to come to mind. Maybe you are the fortunate recipient of a fruitcake log in its 34th year of rotation. Or possibly your mind fills with warm memories of an adorable poop log.
Yes, I said “poop log.” Working for a public utilities department, you may think I have seen my share of poop logs at the water reclamation facility. The truth is I don’t really see the stereotypical solid waste you expect at our facilities. In fact, less than 1% of municipal flush water is human poops. Most of what we flush down the drain and toilet is water.
The poop log I speak of is something entirely different. In the Catalan region of Spain, households celebrate the Tió de Nadal starting on December 8, the Day of the Immaculate Conception. Families introduce the “caga tió,” a hollowed out log with a cute face added to give it personality. A cork or stick goes into the hole of the log to create a nose. This is very important because you definitely want to give the impression your poop log will smell. Two to four legs are attached to the log and it is covered with a blanket. No one wants their poop log to get cold.
From the day you plop the Tió de Nadal into the family room, you must care for and feed it like a pet. I recommend giving this job to the children in your home. They can leave food by the log before going to bed. In the morning the food will have “disappeared” or, if in my house, been eaten by the dog. The better they care for the tió, the better the gifts the log will give the children on Christmas morning.
Traditionally, families in Spain also tell the children the log will grow when fed. If you have the time to replace your log with a new one every few days to represent growth, go for it. I don’t have that many logs outside my home. Instead, I will encourage my child to feed the log junk food. I can then sneak in a nutrition lesson by pointing out that it didn’t grow due to the lack of fruits and vegetables in its diet.
If you live in the US, you can think of the Tió de Nadal as a twist to the Elf on the Shelf. Mash up these traditions by moving the wooden chunk around the house after the kiddos have gone to sleep. Personally, I am not sure which is creepier: knowing an elf is watching your every move or that a poop log is clinging to your every move.
Now for the real fun. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you decide, move the full grown caga tió and position it so half is in the fireplace and the other half hangs out as if it is squatting. In Spain, children sing a wonderful carol to the log. Here is a sampling of the lyrics, which I have edited to make less explicit:
Hazelnuts and mato cheese,
If you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
The log really doesn’t have a chance. No matter what it does, the children take turns hitting the log they have cared for with a stick. A side note, before the singing begins, the children are to go into another room and pray for good presents before the beating begins. During this time, sneaky adults put tiny prizes under the blanket at the rear end side of the log. After the children sing and spank the caga tió, they reach under the blanket to pull out a prize. This continues until someone pulls out an egg or piece of garlic. This clearly signals that the fun is over.
I like this Spanish tradition for many reasons, one which relates to my work. Poop and the act of creating it is a very taboo subject, especially in polite company gathered for the holidays. (Heck, I don’t even admit that I do it, because I don’t.) We need to break the taboo surrounding poo. This topic needs to be discussed because there are real consequences to not discussing this bodily function. This holiday season 2.4 billion people will not have access to a toilet and improved sanitation. If we don’t talk about this because we are embarrassed by the subject, we are creating a barrier to prevent us arriving at a solution. The poop log could help to lighten the mood and get people talking about a serious matter. Improving world sanitation is a gift worth beating a log for.
I hope you consider adding the Tio de Nadal tradition to your home. I only learned of this tradition today, which means I need to go out and make a poop log to present to my child tonight. This family tradition is one guaranteed to not be a stinker.
Some have doubted the authenticity of this holiday tradition. Here is video proof. I can’t make this up.