dijous, 24 de desembre del 2009

Smell of Christmas (IV)... - El tió

Let me be angry for one second: TAKE OUT YOUR SANTA CLAUSES OUT OF THE BALCONY! That does not mean I am against Santa Claus (or Father Christmas, called it as you like), but I am against him overtaking something genuinely Catalan. You might call me endogamic, but when it comes to our tió tradition I become very intransigent. I love this tradition because it is very curious. For me Santa Claus is a tradition elsewhere, I like it in its context and I enjoyed my visit to Santa's home in the Polar Arctic Circle some years ago. But once in Catalonia...I love the tradition of tió every Christmas eve with the family.

You might be wondering what on earth the TIÓ tradition is. The tió is a log which
...poops presents. So the TIÓ is...A POOPING LOG!!! Traditionally, they are consuming goods like food or drinks (usually related to Christmas time), but I dare say that this is no longer the case.

"Per fer cagar el tió" (To make the tió poop) the first thing to do is to have a good thick log and carve a mouth and a couple of eyes into the timber to turn it into a proper tió (if you cannot do so, just buy one with a painted face and a barretina). If possible, have the same tió every year. At home we had the same for years and I came to like the tió that my father had carved...it was something special for me, this piece of wood with carved eyes, neck and mouth. I really believed it actually pooped presents until I was old enough to know the truth. So, strange as it may be, I was quite disappointed and sad when my father decided to chop it into pieces and use our beloved tió as fire wood :(.

By the beginning of December, the tió is placed inside the house (it is very bucolic to place it near the fireside) and covered with a blanket, so it doesn't get cold. Then, it needs to be feed everyday to make it grow father with presents. As a kid, my father use to tell me that he had seen it eating and he would touch the tió's stomach and say it was fattening. I never wondered why I didn't see him eating...but I really believed it had and that it actually was getting bigger as the pooping day was approaching...:P

Finally, when Christmas eve arrives... the tió is hit with sticks and a song is sung along the hitting. Many versions of the song exist: long versions, short versions, mixed versions... Mainly they all ask the tió to poop well and good stuff. I post one version from Xesco Boix, which my father use to put us for Christmas:

To illustrate the tradition, I looked out for pictures in family albums. My father took some pictures of our first popping logs, but then he stopped. Thus the pictures I will show you are from Christmas 86, 87, and 88, i.e., when I was 2, 3 and 4 and my brother two years younger (my sister wasn't even born then).

Xmas 1986: Mum is teaching me how to make the tió poop.

Xmas 1987: my brother Jordi and I hitting the tió.
I am now master of the art of tió hitting and Jordi is my eager little disciple.

Xmas 87: Mama, que ha cagat el tió? (Mummy, has the tió pooped?)

Xmas '87: Me organizing tió's gifts

Xmas '87: Jordi and I can't wait to see what's inside the wrapping paper!!

Xmas 1988: Look how my brother looks after the tió!

Xmas '88: "Tió, tió, caga turró..."

This is my explanation of the tió. Of course, it is subjective and nostalgic. I had a good time remembering when writing. If you wish to read more things about the tió, see:
- http://euskocat.blogspot.com/2009/12/olentzero-and-tio-de-nadal.html
- Tió songs (in Catalan)
- Wikipedia

2 comentaris:

Isabel ha dit...

I love the tradition of the tió too and I really hope it will never disappear. Besides, it's great to have many different traditions and if one (i.e. Santa Clause) just overtakes everything it would be boring.

Those pictures are awesome! I especially like the one where you and Jordi have the sticks ready to whack the tió. :)

Does the tió still poop just túrron and other communal gifts or does he now also poop larger individual gifts? Because I read somewhere that he gives the small shared gifts and the Reyes Magos give the bigger individual gifts.

anna ha dit...

Nice tió tradition you have! We don't have Santa Claus either (but Christkind!) and I get also a bit angry about the import. But your cute pictures let me forget it :-).