In the Catalonian mountains of the Serra de Montserrat, the tradition of Santa Claus is too boring. At left is an example of the Catalonian Yuletide mascot Tió (also called Caga Tió, Tió de Nadal or Tronca). The figure is an anthropomorphized wooden log with a Mr. Potato Head-like face assembled on it’s cut end, and is often propped up on little sticks. But don’t let appearances fool you; this adorable mascot has secret masochistic tendencies, and a magical rectum. Over the days leading up to the holiday, the Tió log becomes part of the household – sitting nearby, participating in gatherings and is even given food to “eat” during meals… always smiling. The family gives it a red cloth at night so it doesn’t get cold (and to aid with it’s digestion). But, according to tradition, on Christmas day things suddenly turn violent. The Tió is tossed near (or sometimes actually into) the lit fireplace while the family shouts at it and orders it to “shit” out gifts of candy. If the log does not produce, the family threatens to beat it with sticks, which they have at the ready. They then sing the traditional song (translated); “Shit log! Shit torrons, hazelnuts and cheese, if you don’t shit well I’ll give you a blow with a stick! Shit log!” as they beat it senseless. The terrified Tió excretes nuts and dried figs if the family members have been good, or salt herring, onions and garlic if they have been bad. Whatever the outcome, they reward the Tió at day’s end by incinerating it. There are many variations on the character, and many traditional “shit log!” Catalonian Christmas songs. The Tió derives from Catalan Mythology. Here is more info, here is an educational film about the Tió.
(thanks to Bryce for the merry tip)