Tío de Nadal is one of Catalonia’s quirkiest Christmas traditions, which can also be found in homes in Aragón and Valencia and just like the caganer, it brings together Christmas and the act of defecation and no-one really knows why.
It’s essentially a log with a jolly face painted on one end, is often propped up on two front legs, wearing a red sock to mimic the traditional red Catalan beret known as the barretina and covered with a blanket.
You will find him being sold at Christmas markets across Catalonia and in some other regions.
The figure appears on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) and children will then look after it all the way up until Christmas Eve.
Tradition dictates that children must ‘feed’ scraps of food to the log, also known as Caga Tío (pooping log) each night in the run-up to Christmas and cover him with a blanket to protect him from the cold.
Do this successfully and on Christmas Eve the log will reward its carers by pooping out gifts, traditionally Turrón, dried figs and nuts, but in modern times anything from sweets to toys.
He won’t do this though until he is beaten with a stick and ordered to defecate with a song.
The blanket covering his rear end is removed and what lies beneath are gifts to be enjoyed by everyone in the household.
Who needs Santa?