By Ellie Nan Storck
December 22, 2016

In a departure from what we may often associate with Christmas in the states (mistletoe, reindeer, Yule logs, et al) the people of Catalan in Spain enjoy a quirky kind of tradition: the Caga Tio. Wander through any Christmas Market in the Catalan region, and you’re bound to see stands with all kinds of them. The direct translation? “Uncle Poop” or “Poop Dude.” (Yes, you read that correctly.)

When the Feast of the Immaculate Conception begins on December 8th, Catalan children care for the Tio, covering it with a blanket for warmth. Come Christmas day, the children gather around and beat it with sticks, asking it to defecate gifts (which are hidden under the blanket). The ceremony ends with the Caga Tio releasing a salted herring.

Children can expect to find small gifts like candy, nuts, and traditional turron, which is a kind of nougat. The larger presents come on December 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, from the Reyes Magos (Three Wise Men).