Crafting traditional Christmas 'Tió' logs to prevent forest fires

A family reuses felled tree trunks from forest cleanups deemed unsuitable for firewood

Esther Rovira at her workshop in Arbúcies
Esther Rovira at her workshop in Arbúcies / Ariadna Reche
Catalan News

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December 16, 2023 12:32 PM

December 16, 2023 12:35 PM

In the picturesque village of Arbúcies, Girona, a family has started a unique Christmas tradition: making traditional "tió" logs from the trunks of cork oaks felled during forest clearance operations.  

In a small workshop set up in the garage of their house, the Rovira Hernández family has been making "tions" for four years, with the aim of "giving a purpose to this wood, which is not suitable as firewood because it is very volatile".  

In addition, this initiative helps prevent forest fires - one of the main reasons for the forest clearances - especially in times of increased risk due to drought.


"In this way, we ensure that the felled trunks, which cannot be used as firewood, are not left in the middle of the forest," explains Esther Rovira, one of the family's daughters.  

In the area of Arbúcies there are many cork oak forests. This species of tree is used to extract cork from its bark, but once felled, "it is not good for firewood because it is light and when it burns it can fly away".

A family effort

The entire process is done by hand, with the family dividing the work: the father selects the trunks and prepares the dimensions of the future "tions", while the mother and daughters take care of painting and dressing them.  

"We try to use as much wood as possible, but we check that it's not diseased or too green, because in that case it wouldn't be suitable," explains Esther Rovira.  

The selected trunks are cut into different sizes and left to dry in a covered area until they are ready to be transformed into "tions".   

To bring them to life, the family adds wooden legs and then paints the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, each "tió" is adorned with a traditional red Catalan hat called a "barretina" and a blanket.