The tradition of Christmas Log
Many tourists who visit Barcelona during Advent and stay in our luxury apartments wonder why they find in Barcelona Christmas markets logs with two or four legs, decorate with painted face and wearing a red hat called a barretina. This is the Tió de Nadal an emblematic figure of old Catalan Christmas tradition. There is a similar tradition in other places such as Occitania (Cachafuòc or Soc de Nadal) or Aragón (Tizón de Nadal or Tronca of Nabidá). One of the best Christmas markets in Barcelona where to buy the Tió and other gifts and Christmas decorations is Santa Llúcia which is located just in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona.
The Tio de Nadal comes to houses on December 8th and stays in Catalan homes until Christmas Eve. Each day, children and, why not, adults in the household have to feed it and cover the log with a blanket to keep it warm.
On Christmas Day, or on Christmas Eve according to tradition, children have to hit the log with a wooden stick while singing a traditional song. Children ask the Tió to give gifts and sweets. Just before, the little ones have to go to another part of the house to ask the Tió to bring them great gifts. This serves as the perfect place for adults to put gifts supposedly defecated from the Tió under the blanket in time.
Traditionally the Tió only brought sweets, nuts and candies to children as The Three Wise Men brought more substantial presents. According to the Catalan region it would defecate dried figs and when he stopped defecating (because he had nothing left), he would defecate a salted herring, garlic, an onion, or just urinate on the floor. Currently it defecates all kinds of gifts for the little ones.
If you want to take a Catalan tradition back to your home, do not hesitate to buy a Tió and feed and shelter it until Christmas Eve so that it can give you its presents.