There have been a few Top Comments diaries that have featured the Christmas traditions of various European countries.  The ones that spring to my mind are two by Steveningen, one on Sinterklaas (and the controversial Swarte Piet) in the Netherlands, and another on the Krampus tradition in the Alpine regions.  If there were others, they've slipped my mind.

This evening, I'd like to introduce another Christmas tradition from Europe, this time from Catalonia, the region in the northeastern corner of Spain.  As any Catalan will tell you, Catalonia is not Spain.  A long history of Spanish subjugation, and the attempt of Franco to obliterate their unique culture and language, have made the Catalans all the more enthusiastic in embracing their traditions while rejecting those of Spain.  As such, they do not embrace the image of the old man with a white beard in a red suit so familiar in other parts of the world.  Catalans consider Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, or whatever else you might wish to call him, a symbol of cultural imperialism.  

No, Santa Claus is not who brings presents to children at Christmas.  In Catalonia, it's the Caga tio that produces presents.  In Catalan, Caga tio means "Shitting log."  No, I'm not joking.

More details below the orange turd.  However, beware:  if you have delicate sensibilities, this might not be your kind of diary...

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STOLEN from Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish.

Around the time of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Catalan families will obtain a log that's about a foot long, paint a face on one end, give it a couple of legs, a hat, and a little blanket (to keep it warm).


Every evening, the family "feeds" the log in anticipation of Christmas.  On Christmas, or Christmas Eve, depending on the tradition of the particular family), the log is beaten with sticks and encouraged to shit.  


The blanket is removed to reveal...a present!  A commenter at Sullivan's blog says the following:

The tradition says that before beating the tió all the kids have to leave the room and go to another place of the house to pray asking for the tió to deliver a lot of presents. This makes the perfect excuse for the relatives to do the trick and put the presents under the blanket while the kids are praying.

The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men. It does leave candies, nuts and torrons. Depending on the part of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. When nothing is left to “shit”, it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or “urinates”. What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.

It may be that, traditionally, the tio doesn't leave larger presents, but in the youtube below, you will see a tio shit a toy in a box with shrink-wrap plastic on it.  I wonder what it must have been like to pass that.

If that weren't enough, in their nativity scenes, Catalans hide a figure called the caganer, or "shitter," a figure of someone with his pants pulled down taking a dump.  The challenge then is to try to find it in the scene.  They love to make figures of famous people as caganers, including prominent politicians.


Yes, they've got W here, but they've also got Obama, and even the Pope.  I suppose such figures serve to remind us that, no matter how rich or important or powerful or famous a person is, he or she is still a creature of the Earth, just like the rest of us.

You can see all of this, and more, about Catalan Christmas traditions in the youtube below:

Now, on to the comments!

December 12, 2013

Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU
when you find that proficient comment.

From brillig:

In Hunter's delicious Fox News dreams of a Very White Christmas, Trix explains why of COURSE Santa is white.
From Dave in Northridge:
This thread, initiated by yojimbo, starts off witty, gets serious and then funny again as it considers Megyn Kelly, Whiteness, the season, and history on TV.  From caseylaw's recommended post Megyn Kelly: "Jesus was a white man!"
From restondem:
This one from skillet almost made me do a spit take...Rush taking on the Pope and we know how that ends up.  PURE BRILLIANCE!!!!!  From TomP's recommended post Pope Francis: We Must Change An Economy In Which Poor Only Get "Crumbs".
From loggersbrat:
loggersbrat nominates the thread that follows her own comment.  (I link the reply to the comment, not the comment itself.)  From schmuelman's recommended psot Uruguay Marijuana Legalization Violates International Law
From your humble diarist:
Jim P makes this perceptive comment in FishOutOfWater's recommended post China Solves Smog Problem.

December 11, 2013

(excluding Tip Jars and first comments)

Got mik!

  1) Bravo! Well done by ontheleftcoast — 161
  2) Apparently, there are already 5 wrongful by Its the Supreme Court Stupid — 158
  3) Geez...hopefully his family will get sued by the by estamm — 149
  4) The modern Golden Rule by ontheleftcoast — 142
  5) Huh? by kharma — 139
  6) Spoiled Brat defense... by J V Calin — 125
  7) Thank you!!! by Politics and A Beer — 102
  8) It sounds to me like eventually, this kid will by commonmass — 99
  9) American Taliban by voracious — 88
10) There is no credible evidence by Jesselyn Radack — 87
11) A beer, an internet, and a desire to find the by ontheleftcoast — 84
12) If anyone doubted the return of the Gilded Age by Bobs Telecaster — 84
13) They're not numerous, just loud. by CwV — 78
14) they can afford it by SemDem — 77
15) I didn't know Dan White's lawyer by Johnny Q — 77
16) Thanks for the thorough information by Shockwave — 76
17) If only they had the time and interest by War on Error — 76
18) This is the company they own. by Its the Supreme Court Stupid — 70
19) The I didn't learn responsibility by The Sheeping of America — 69
20) Maybe you can stop spreading FUD then by AoT — 66
21) The culture of obedience rewards subservience by hannah — 65
22) This is absolutely the truth by tuesdayschilde — 64
23) Absolutely by gulfgal98 — 64
24) Ugh. They have government contracts. by Eileen B — 63
25) The defense was that he always gets what by Mike S — 63
26) Shining a little light on unconstitutional actions by greenbastard — 60
27) Here is a link on by Its the Supreme Court Stupid — 59
28) LYING America Taliban by Walt starr — 57
29) They should be happy with the circus by ricklewsive — 57
30) Since his parents are the ones who gave by manneckdesign — 57

December 11, 2013

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