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Y is for… Yule Log

Strictly speaking, a yule log is a large piece of wood burned on a fire and forming part of a traditional Christmas celebration in many parts of Europe.

For me, though, it immediately brings to mind two rather different images.

The first, is the chocolate cake shaped like a log and often eaten at Christmas.  Not my favourite festive food, as I really prefer a cake laden with fruit and smothered in marzipan.

The second image is a jolly wooden log, with a smiley face and a red cape and hat, and who defecates sweets.

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Known as Tió de Nadal, this cute-looking log is a much loved part of a Catalan Christmas.  He can be found in many Catalan homes during the festive season.  He normally takes the form of a hollow log of about thirty centimetres in length. Recently, the tió has come to stand up on two or four little stick legs with a broad smiling face and  a red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional Catalan barretina). You’ll find tiós of all sizes and colours on the Christmas market stalls that abound in Catalan towns throughout December.

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Starting on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), children give the tió a little bit to eat every day and usually cover him with a cosy blanket so that he will not be cold at night.  Then, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the tió is encouraged to defecate sweets by beating him  with sticks while singing. When nothing is left to “shit”, it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic or an onion.  The bigger presents don’t come till January, when the Kings arrive.

This market stall kindly sells not just tiós, but also “blankets and sticks to make the log shit”
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Large tiós also make an appearance at the markets and children queue excitedly to beat him and sick, with a kind man sitting at the end ready to hand over a lollipop.

If you are in Catalonia in the run up to Christmas, do look out for him.

All photos taken at Barcelona’s Santa Lucia Market, December 2013.

Linked to  YYY Challenge, Fun Foto Challenge: HappyPixelventures and ABC Wednesday.

15 replies »

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