Tio de Nadal

by Andrew Stein

One specific Christmas tradition leaves us a little confused, intrigued, and tickled all at once.  Apparently, there exists in Catalan mythology a character named Tio Nadal.  Tio for short is a log with a face on it often propped up by sticks like the picture below, which we photographed in a tapas bar.

Starting on December 8th with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, kids feed the tio a little bit every night.  Some even cover him with a blanket so he doesn’t get cold.  Then, in the days preceding Christmas, kids must take better and better care of the log to make sure that it will poop, yes defecate, many presents on Christmas.  Even stranger, to make it poop when the day comes, kids often beat the tio with sticks singing all sorts of hilarious songs.  It’s their version of Santa.