Six Characters in Search of a Blogger

6.6 Yes, Virginia, there really is a Christmas Poo: Caga Tió (Catalonia, Spain)
December 19, 2008, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Santa and His Posse | Tags: , , , , , ,


Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo

Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Comedy Central animated series South Park, despite its political incorrectness, because it is just so damn clever.  And it is one of the few shows that can make me laugh so hard I cry.

When I first saw the episode featuring Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, in 1997, it was one of those moments when I just couldn’t stop laughing.  It was so bizarre!  A talking piece of poo appears to one of the characters (Kyle, who happens to be Jewish) as a secular alternative to the religious symbols of Christmas; but Kyle is the only one who actually sees Mr. Hankey, at least in his singing and dancing persona.  Everyone else around Kyle only sees him carrying around a piece of feces.  And, of course, it is assumed that Kyle is mentally ill.

I thought, what in the heck do Trey Parker and Matt Stone smoke to come up with these outlandish ideas?

the caganer leaves a special gift for the Christ child

Forget the gold, frankincense, and myrrh: the caganer leaves a special gift for the Christ child

And then this week, I realized that Mr. Hankey had probably been inspired by a very strange set of Christmas traditions in Catalonia, Spain, where the holiday season could be called a veritable festival of poo.  There, Nativity scenes feature the standard Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, as well as animals, shepherds and Wise Men.  But another critical attendee at this most celebrated of birth scenes is the caganer (trans. “the pooing man”) who deposits a very special gift before the Christ child:  his excretions.  (Apparently, Catalan manger scenes have also been expanded to include the pixaner, who takes a leak to show his reverence before the infant Son of God.)

Christmas tradition in Catalonia also includes the magical figure of caga tió, literally “the pooping log,” which has an honored place during holiday celebrations.  Beginning on December 8 (the feast of the Immaculate Conception) the hollowed log is “fed” or filled with gifts, and covered with a blanket for comfort.  Then, on Christmas Day, children beat it so that it will “poo” treats for them.  There are even special songs that go along with the event:

caga tió, the pooping Christmas log

caga tió, the pooping Christmas log


Poop log,

Poop turron (a nougat-based Catalan candy)

Hazelnuts and cottage cheese;

If you don’t poop well,

I’ll hit you with a stick,

Poop log! 


Following the song, the log is hit fairly hard, and someone will reach under the blanket to extract the gift that has just been defecated.  Once the gift is revealed, the process begins again.

You know, I have never held natural bodily processes in such reverence.  Are the Catalans suggesting that I should?  Perhaps.  But somehow, I don’t think wrapping up such a–well, excremental?–memento and putting it under the tree would be appreciated by the folks on my Christmas list.  (Although it might make a great follow-up SNL skit for Andy Samberg, whose “D**k in a Box” Digital Short was such a hit a few years ago.)

But I suppose there is a little part of me (once I get past the initial revulsion) that is rather happy that there are precedents for Mr. Hankey in the world.  It feels a bit like that moment from the famous 1897 letter/editorial in the New York Sun, written to a young Virginia O’Hanlon about the existence of Santa Claus.  (I’ve made the appropriate substitutions): 

No [Christmas poo]? Thank God!  He lives, and lives forever.  A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

And now, to make glad your heart as we approach Christmas week, a little sample of Mr. Hankey’s magic; click HERE, and enjoy!


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

LOL this is funny stuff I remember when I first saw this “tradition” you know I even saw an Obama cagon the other day!!

Comment by Greg

Blimey, what a list of racist, sexist, ageist, sadistic, borderline paedophilic traditions…only in Europe! Is it too late to celebrate Hannukah instead?

Comment by TDOAG

[…] 6.6 Yes, Virginia, there really is a Christmas Poo: Caga Tió (Catalonia, Spain) […]

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