Occitan Christmas Custom

Hugues Bernet is a teacher in a school in France where the Occitan language and culture are taught. (Occitan is a language spoken in parts of southern France, Spain and Italy. It was the language of the troubadours.)

Hugues wrote to me about a custom they follow in his school at Christmastime. It involves a recitation in Occitan. Here’s what he wrote:

Here is a small Occitan custom that’s practiced at Christmastime. I don’t know it’s date or precise origin (the term “cachafuoc” for “Yule log” comes from the Cévennes mountains in south central France). Nonetheless, in the school where I work, we organize a little party for Christmas where we recapture this custom.

During this party the gifts are given out to all the people there. That’s the “soca” (a log) that brings the gifts. Two people (the youngest and the oldest of the group) carry the log into the room and say a ritual phrase in Occitan:

Bota fuòc, cachafuòc,
que nos alegre,
que nos fague la jòia d’èstre aquíi l’an que ven,
e se sèm pas mai,
que siaguem pas mens!

English Translation:

Light up, Yule log,
Delight us,
Give us the joy to be here next year,
And if we aren’t more numerous,
Let us not be less!

Many thanks to Hugues for sharing this nice saying and custom with us!

-Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, December 14th, 2006 at 3:48 pm and is filed under Christmas, Christmas Rhymes, Countries & Cultures, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Nursery Rhymes about Holidays, Occitan, Occitan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Occitan Christmas Custom”

  1. Joanne Tapiolas Says:

    Catalan Tradition of Tio… Christmas Log
    My grandparents were Catalan… moved to Australia and since the 1950’s my family have celebrated the tradition of Tio… We have an English version of the song… Tio, Tio, lay or I give you bastor (or something similar, meaning the stick or a hit).

  2. carles Says:

    “fer cagar el tió” is a tradition in Catalonia, where I’m come from (Barcelona). The children received the presents from their fathers and oncles. Some times, someone is inside a big strain, and then the childrens sing this song, and at the same time with a stick they give a few blows to the strain; and after that, the presents go out from the strain.

  3. Lisa Says:

    That’s interesting. I wonder what “strain” means? I’d also love to learn the song!

    Cheers!

    Mama Lisa

  4. Lisa Says:

    Monique wrote:

    It’s called “el tio fresco” in Catalan.

  5. Carles Says:

    Monique.
    I think you’re wrong. The song is called “caga tió”.
    “Caga” means to s**t, and tió is a trunk (a strain?).
    If you want some more information you can have a look at this webpage.

    Is in Catalan. If anyone is interested in, I can translate some of the paragraphs.
    See you!
    Carles

  6. Michael Strubell Says:

    The tió is a log. Caga means to sh*t, to be a bit more specific than Carles

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