Caga Tió, please don’t poo sardines this Christmas

8301547974_877bd85f16_o

It’s a Catalan Christmas at Milkwood Farm this year. Which means that, in pride of place, sits Caga Tió. Caga Tió is a happy ‘uncle’ who is actually a log. You feed him fruit for 2 weeks leading up to Christmas and, on the appointed day, he poos out presents of nougat. And you sing to him and ask him not to produce sardines instead.

Now tell me this is not the ultimate Christmas tradition. I’ve felt pretty mild about Christmas these last few years but Caga Tió has changed everything.

Caga Tió, Gigi and Floyd (posing for the obligatory Christmas photo to send to far away catalan relatives)

Caga Tió, Gigi and Floyd (posing for the obligatory Christmas photo to send to far away catalan relatives)

The reason for Caga Tió’s arrival is Gigi, as Gigi, apart from being amazing and also Floyd’s wife, is Catalan.

The Catalans are an interesting bunch who also have a thing going with a character called Le Caganer which translates politely as ‘the defecator’ – a small guy in a traditional Catalan hat in the act of squatting down. He’s a regular in Catalan nativity scenes.

Where I am going with all this. Ok you might be familiar with the fact that we’re quite passionate about facing up to the facts of nutrient cycling in the form of humanure.

We produce it every day, it’s full of nutrients, and can be processed safely for cycling back through various growing systems, reliving pressure on many inputs we currently manufacture with massive environmental footprints to create ‘fertility’ for the land we grow food on.

Le Caganer is, apparently, giving baby Jesus a gift (as he only has that of himself to give, being a peasant)… the gift of fertility for the earth.

Le Caganers. Don't want a peasant version? How about Obama. Or the Queen. Or your favourite football star. After all, they're all part of the great nutrient cycle...

Le Caganers. Don’t want a peasant version? How about Obama. Or the Queen. Or your favorite football star. After all, they’re all part of the great nutrient cycle…

Sure the metaphor is a bit raw for some folks, but it’s at the heart of everything we’re all hoping for in the future – a regenerative earth where humans play an active role in ensuring ongoing fertility for future generations, using renewable resources.

Viva Le Caganer!

We had heard about Caga Tió while traveling through Spain a while back, but it’s another thing to have him front and center in our woolshed.

So we’ve learned the song, fed him well, and Socks the woolshed cat has even kept him company. We’re ready for our nougat and we hope not to receive Sardines.

Here’s the only video I could find of the Caga Tió song with english subtitles, so please excuse the slightly gruesome cartoons and weird addition of a celebrity chef.

Also the whole whacking with a stick is optional, we might just try tickling him instead:

So may your day be happy and full of nougat, and not too many sardines.

I’m off to prep a leg of our very own pastured pork, be incredibly thankful for what we have, and practice my ukulele chords. Happy Christmas.

8301547974_877bd85f16_o

10 Comments

  1. Sonja
    Posted December 24, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    Happy christmas!!!!

  2. Posted December 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Small correction, the queen does not have a bum! :-)

  3. Posted January 1, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Don’t know what the name Caga Tió means, now I read that’s meant to be Catalan except that Caga Tío, yes, TÍO not Tió; is a Spanish not a Catalan expression.

    • Posted January 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Erm, well that’s how our resident Catalan spells it – it translates from Catalan as ‘shit uncle’ :)

      • tippitiwitch
        Posted January 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Not wanting to sound pedantic I insist tió does not mean uncle in Catalan, unless your uncle is a log; I do not speak Catalan but I believe the word for uncle in that language is oncle. As I wrote before tío is the Spanish word for uncle; tió in Catalan means a log.

      • Posted January 2, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Er yes it translates literally to ‘shit log’ but all the Catalans I know translate it as ‘shit uncle’… So take your pick? Cheers.

    • Hinterlader
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      It’s a play on words – anyone from Catalonia speaks Spanish, tio is a homophone meaning uncle in Spanish and log in Catalan. So it’s either pooping log or pooping uncle, or more to the point, both.

  4. Gianna
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi tippiwitch! I am the Catalan on farm. You are right in that uncle in Catalan is “oncle” and that “tío” in Spanish is uncle, and that “tió” in Catalan means big log… The fact that some of us (at least my family) call uncle to Caga Tió has nothing to do, though, with the Spanish word “tío”.

    I have to admit, that I was actually thrived to see how Kirsten had researched and written Caga Tió using the correct accentuation. Thanks Kirsten, that honors our language very much!!!!

    Happy new year to everyone and many more to come for our curious and fabulous tradition of celebrating Christmas with Caga Tió!!!!

    • Posted January 3, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink | Reply

      Also, when I was last in Barcelona, our hosts told us about the log that they whacked at Christmas time while calling ‘shit, uncle, shit!’ So it’s not just your family, Gigi ;)

  5. Christian Sànchez
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hi there!!! I’m absolutely thrilled with Caga Tió at Milkwood!! Wowwww catalan culture crossing borders (yay for Gi)! Guys, as many traditions, the exact meaning and origin remains a mistery. Caga Tió is pagan, mixed with christian traditions, caga tió is about honoring the woods, the earth and thanking it for its gifts on the longest night of the year…although we hit it with a stick…

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Once lunch was done it was time for Caga Tió! And so the Catalan ‘uncle’ was duly tapped with sticks until he poo-ed out gifts of nougat, and not salty fish. Have I lost you yet? The backstory on Caga Tió is here… [...]

  2. […] thought we could get away with Caga Tio instead, that fabulous Catalan tradition where children whack a painted log with a stick on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,592 other followers