Meet “Caga Tio,” Barcelona’s crapping uncle


Joan Puig Tarres, Editor

If you have an uncle who doesn’t really care about farting or even defecating in public, this story might seem all too familiar. Spain, where I come from, has some different Christmas traditions than what Americans have. A perfect example is the Caga Tió, or “Uncle Pooper” (the translation is not exact because those are Catalan words, a language spoken in Northeastern Spain, and the word Tió is usually confused with “tio”, uncle in English), in Spain. This tradition coincides with Santa Claus on the night of the 24 of December.


Caga Tió is a log, yes a log. You can build your own Caga Tió by crafting a pair of legs and painting a face on it, or you can go and look for them in the forest where they are hiding and waiting for you. Caga Tió’s tradition starts at the beginning of December when Spaniards feed him with food like vegetables, meat, or any leftovers in order to make the Caga Tió bigger and poop better presents. We feed Caga Tió at least twice a day every day until December 24. When the night of the 24th arrives, everybody gets ready for the Caga Tió moment. Before starting, Caga Tió needs privacy, so participants have to put a blanket above it to let him poop. When the moment finally arrives, the little kids take a stick and form a circle around Caga Tió, and they start hitting him while they are singing a song ( it usually is something like, “Crap, Uncle, crap! Take a big dump!”) When the song ends, kids have to wait a couple of minutes and then they can take the blanket off, revealing lots of candy and presents.   


The beginnings of the Caga Tió tradition remains unknown. Most of the Catalan historians who found something about Caga Tió weren’t too accurate, considering that we only know that the Caga Tió seems to be a pre-Christian era tradition and with a baroque style. Nowadays we still have no evidence that will lead us to the beginning of this tradition.


The first time you hear about Caga Tió, it can seem a little bit weird and confusing, but once you get comfortable with the idea, you’ll be waiting the whole year to take him out to poop again.