Christmas in Catalonia, Tió de Nadal

It’s amazing how we live in our own little bubble isn’t it? Not knowing about other cultures and traditions. So when I got the opportunity to write about Christmas traditions from another country I immediately chose Spain.

Why? One of my closest friends has a second home in Spain, so often spends Christmas or the New Year out there. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to find out a little more about the history and culture of this wonderful country.

I have chosen the tradition; Tió de Nadal.

Tió de Nadal it is a Catalan tradition, in English it translates to the Christmas log (or the pooping log). When I first read about this I found it very odd, but the more I have read about this cute little log, the more it  has grown on me.

The Tió de Nadal is decorated on the 8th December, the day of the Immaculate Conception. It used to just be a hollow log but over the years and has evolved to have 2 front legs and a cute smiling face.


So, I hear you ask; what is it, why have a log with a face?  From the 8th December Catalan families feed and care for the log, they also cover it with a blanket to keep cozy and warm. Then on Christmas Eve children sing songs and hit it with a stick, a bit like a piñata although they do not intend to break the log, just encourage it to bear gifts.

The children then leave the room to pray for gifts, giving the parents the opportunity to put some small gifts in the hollow log or under the blanket usually small sweets, nuts and dried fruit.  According to tradition, depending on how well the log has been treated depends, on the volume of gifts it produces. When the Tió de Nadal has finished producing gifts it poops a bulb of garlic to demonstrate that gift bearing for the year is over. After this the log is burned on the fire.

This is a tradition with dates back centuries, to the days when the open fire was a central part of family life and the home. The ashes of the burnt log were kept and spread on crops to promote fertility and crop growth for the year ahead.
On face value Tió de Nadal is a seemingly odd tradition, but take it back to its origin; its purpose has a place in history, when people were happy with a prosperous year of crops, and increased fertility, rather than copious amounts of gifts. Yes, Tió de Nadal may have evolved to fit in with modern-day society but its history is based on the giving of life and food.

We decided to make Tió de Nadal ourselves but with a twist, so made edible versions.

You will need:

Half a bar of white chocolate

5 Mini rolls



1 Marshmallow

A tube of writing icing in black or brown

PicMonkey Collagefeliz

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, then dip the mini rolls into the melted chocolate to create the face.

Chop a smartie into 3 and push the red smarties into the center to form the nose, then break off some marshmallow and roll into little balls, just in to form the eyes. Now leave to cool and set.

Once the chocolate has set you can draw on the mouth and pupils with the writing icing. And lastly chop up the matchmakers to make little legs and decorate with mini napkin triangles to make the hat.

The boys helped me make these and loved it, although I had to have my wits about me, as every time I turned my back they stuffed their faces with matchmakers.

We were very pleased with the result; they looked really cute and tasted great, although they didn’t stay around long enough to get time to poop sweets.

I am so glad I researched this subject what a lovely little tradition it turned out to be, I have become very fond of Tió de Nadal.

So from the Christie’s

Me gustaría desearle un muy feliz Navidad y un feliz año nuevo.


Author of Extraordinary Chaos a family lifestyle and travel blog from a 40+ mum of teenage boys, sharing our family travels, recipes, reviews and country living. Also the co editor of Cruising With Kids Family Cruise Blog

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  1. 19th December 2014 / 8:46 am

    Ah how sweet is this! I love hearing about traditions from other countries, I really like this one. Great work making your own little log cakes too! Fab xx

  2. Jenna
    19th December 2014 / 9:20 am

    I have never heard of this tradition before – very interesting!

    Your Tió de Nadal looks very tasty too. 🙂

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

    • SarahJChristie
      20th December 2014 / 9:15 pm

      Thanks Jenna it is isn’t it x

  3. 19th December 2014 / 11:20 am

    That is so cute – love this idea. You just assume everyone does the same as you don’t you? Thanks for sharing this, and Happy Christmas to all xx

    • SarahJChristie
      20th December 2014 / 9:15 pm

      Merry Christmas to you all, and yes you assume that don’t you ? Its lovely to see how other cultures celebrate x

  4. 19th December 2014 / 12:36 pm

    A pooping log!?! Who knew. I love that you made your very own too. Have a lovely Christmas. Kx

    • SarahJChristie
      20th December 2014 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Karen, yes its actually a lovely tradition when you look at its background x

  5. 19th December 2014 / 12:59 pm

    How sweet! I love hearing how other cultures celebrate! Like you say this would seem quite strange until you look into the back ground, really interesting post xx

    • SarahJChristie
      20th December 2014 / 9:13 pm

      Thanks Hayley yes its lovely when you think of its history x

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