A Crappy Christmas Tradition
The people of Catalunya (as spelled in Catalán), the region of Spain in which Barcelona lies, is characterized by its rich sense of humor that is, well, full of sh*t. Their “scatology” (preoccupation with excrement and excretion) is especially prominent at Christmastime. You’ll find scatological examples by the Christmas tree and even on nativity scenes.
“El Caganer” – The Christmas “crapper”
Often hidden amidst a Catalán nativity scene is a “caganer” (a “sh*tter”), a figure in a squatting position, its pants lowered with a pile of crap below.
The traditional “caganer” is a Catalán peasant or shepard wearing a “berretina” (a red Catalán hat). But nowadays there’s a “caganer” for everyone, whether it’s a favorite or least favorite celebrity, politician, athlete or just a figure representative of someone’s career or hobby. The Caganers are usually handmade and cost anywhere from 2-20 euros ($3-30). See all those available from the official website: www.caganer.com
Here are some of the Caganers that I saw, with ideas I have for their captions:
- Barcack Obama – Yes He Can!
- Britany Spears – Oops, she did it again!
- The Pope – Even The Pope Poops
- Superheroes poop too – Wow, that is a Super Man!
- Prince William and Kate Middleton – No one is too proper to poop
- Lionel Messi (the star of Barcelona’s football team) – Messi gives his name a whole new meaning
- Einstein – No one’s too smart to poop
- Dalai Lama – Poo for Peace
Searching for the “caganer” on the nativity scene is a ritual reminiscent of “Where’s Waldo?” While including a figure defecating within a nativity scene struck me as a 21st century sign of protest against organized religion, the “caganer” has actually been around since the mid-18th century (and some say as far back as the 16th century). But why put a figure of someone crapping on a nativity scene?
- Some say the “caganer” symbolizes hope and prosperity in the New Year because it is fertilizing the land.
- Nativity scenes in Spain show not only the manger, but also what life was like at the time and including a “caganer” makes the scene more realistic and human.
- There are many other possible explanations, but many just say, it’s fun.
Stay tuned for Part II of Crappy Christmas Traditions: Kids Beat Log, Log Poos Presents