Navidad, dulce Navidad [6] Caga Tió


Well you may be asking yourself, “What on earth is that?”.

That is the Tió, a log wrapped in a blanket which is fed from the Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th (a public holiday of course) until Christmas Eve when children beat it with a stick, singing a song which demands that it shits presents. All par for the course in Catalonia where nens (kids) have apparently been beating the shit out of logs for centuries, as this picture demonstrates:


The youngsters of Aragón also like to give the hapless smiling tió a bit of stick as well but round here it’s known as the tronca.

For the scatological amongst you, here’s the charming song:


Caga Tió – Caga Tió- Shit Tió
ametlles i torró -almendras y turrón- almonds & turrón
no caguis arangades -no cagues arenques- don’t shit herrings
que són massa salades -que son demasiado salados- because they’re too salty
caga torrons -caga turrones- shit turrons
que són més bons -que están más buenos- which are much nicer
Caga Tió – Caga Tió – Shit Tió
ametlles i torró -almendras y turrón- almonds & turrón
si no vols cagar -si no quieres cagar- if you don’t want to shit
et donaré un cop de bastó -te daré un golpe de bastón- I’ll beat you with a stick
Caga Tió! – ¡Caga Tió! – Shit Tió!

More info here


Navidad, dulce Navidad [5] El Gordo

Christmas in Spain wouldn’t be the same without El Gordo – the Christmas Lottery. People begin buying tickets in the summer and everybody has their favourite place to buy from. “La Bruixa d’Or” in the small Catalan town of Sort (aptly the Catalan word for luck) is the favourite of the whole country and further afield as regular coach trips and internet sales attest.

Every December 22nd the country comes to a standstill as the hopeful gather around tv sets & radios in bars. workplaces and homes to listen to children from an exclusive Madrid school call the numbers. After the Gordo itself is called there is a bit of an anticlimax but the tv tries to make up for it with endless interviews with the lucky winners wasting thousands of bottles of cava around the nation.

Navidad, dulce Navidad [1]


Listen here

Son muchas las cosas típicas de Navidad, pero en España hay unas cuantas que no faltaran en ningún hogar. Como soy muy golosa empezaré por los turrones. Los hay de muchos tipos pero soy una defensora de los clásicos, los de toda la vida: jijona, alicante, guirlache, yema, yema tostada, chocolate con almendras, fruta y mazapán. Después de un buen aperitivo y comida o cena, aparecen servidos en una bandeja cortados en tiras o dados, en realidad piensas que ya no puedes comer más pero es que son irresistibles y además ¡que caramba! un día es un día, pero no es un día son dos semanas.

En mi caso la tradición familiar es hoy 13 de diciembre día de Santa Lucía ir a comprar los turrones en la turronería Planelles Donat de Barcelona y de paso almendras rellenas, polvorones, figuras de mazapán y sobretodo barquillos, varias cajas de barquillos. Después iremos a la Feria de Santa Lucía que se celebra alrededor de la Catedral de Barcelona a comprar el árbol, los adornos, alguna figura para el pesebre, las panderetas y las zambombas. Intentaré desde hoy hasta Nochebuena explicaros como se viven las Navidades en España, así que estar atentos que en el próximo podcast hablaré de los menús navideños.
Navidad, Navidad, dulce Navidad, la la la la

Navidad, dulce Navidad [2] El Caganer


In my first year in Barcelona I was elbowing my way through the bustling throng in the Christmas Fira de Santa Llucia in front of the cathedral, filled with happy families buying their festive decorations, when a little figure on one of the stands caught my eye. Actually, more like punched me in the eye. It was my first view of something which no nativity scene in Catalonia can be with without, El Caganer or the shitter. I’m sorry – but while many places substitute poo or other softer words, anybody who knows the Catalans couldn’t translate it any other way. (I know that many Catalans consider that their country should not be part of Spain but I’m writing this in praise of one of their traditions).

The Catalans are pretty scatological in general (and we’ll be featuring some more examples in the next few days) and the Caganer has gone from just the traditional version pictured here, to being collecters items as each new season reflects the political and social year that has passed – this year the must-haves seem to be French President Sarkozy, Queen Sofia and Thierry Henry. Indeed, you are no-one in Catalonia until they’ve made a shitter of you.

PS I used to buy a few Caganers every year which visitors would always beg me for, and I always ended up shitterless. Now you can buy your very own defecating festive figure at

Further information