Caga Tió, please don’t poo sardines this Christmas

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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.


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0 responses to “Caga Tió, please don’t poo sardines this Christmas

      1. 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.

    1. 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.

  1. 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!!!!

  2. 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…

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