Varoius interesting cultural differences have been encountered on this, my first Spanish December ever. Of course I had to address Christmas traditions in my language classes. The kids told me about one of theirs. A Cagatió. Now when I heard my 8 year old pupil saying this I thought I must have been mistaken.....because the literal translation is 'a shit log'. Cagar is slang for going to the toilet, and tió means log. They were explaining it to me and all I could understand was that there was this kind of tree trunk with a face on it that looks a bit like a dog, which is full of sweets and when you hit it with a stick and shout "Cagatio" ( 'do a poo for me') it releases some sweets from its rear end, as if going to the toilet. Of course I was angry, angry with myself that at this stage my Spanish was still so bad that my comprehension resulted in such a load of gibberish. I was quite disappointed that I couldn't undertand an 8 year old explaining a simple Christmas tradition. So I mentioned it to my boss. I said that the kids had been trying to explain to me what a Cagatio was and I had clearly misunderstood. I was too embarassed to tell him what I thought they had said so I just asked him to enlighten me.
'it's a kind of tree trunk with a face on it that looks a bit like a dog, which is full of sweets and when you hit it with a stick and shout 'do a poo for me' it releases some sweets from its rear end as if going to the toilet.'
I guess it's the Catalan version of a Yule log in more ways than one! And I also suppose that my Spanish isn't too bad after all. It's a Catalan tradition so not universally known in Spain, and illustrates the regions' bizzare interest in things scatalogical.