The Story of El Caganer and The Defecating Christmas Log

Menja bé, caga forti no tinguis por a la mort!

(“Eat well, shit heartily, and don’t be afraid of death!”)

Celebrating the Holidays 

the Catalan Way

The caganer in the 2011 nativity scene in Bacelona

The caganer in the 2011 nativity scene in Barcelona (source Wikipedia)

El Caganer 

El Caganer is a figurine depicted as a peasant wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (the barretina), often seen smoking a pipe, and having his pants down showing his backside commiting the act of defecating.  The origins of this notorious figure is unknown. According to the Amics del Caganer Society (Friends of the Caganer), it is believed that the tradition started in the late 17th or early 18th century, during the Baroque period.  Originally, El Caganer was depicted only on tiles that told the story of the birth of Jesus. El Caganer eventually developed into a figurine that played a role in the nativity scene in the 19th century.

In Catalonia, Spain, most of Italy, and Southern France, the traditional nativity scene depicts the city of Bethlehem, not just the typical manger scene.  A Catalan masia (farmhouse) is the central piece of the Pessebre (nativity scene) that represents the manger that houses baby Jesus. The outlying scenery includes a washerwoman by a river, a woman spinning yarn, shepherds herding their sheep, the Three Wise Men approaching the manger on camelback, and somewhere hiding in the backdrop of the scene is the caganer committing the act of defecating.  Or dare I say…taking the holiest of craps. (Apologies, I couldn’t refrain myself)

Caganer al pessebre (source Wikepedia)

Caganer al pessebre (source Wikepedia)

What is the meaning?  What is considered acceptable and blasphemous? 

Catalan ethnologist and folklorist, Joan Amades, stated that El Caganr’s, ”…deposit on the ground was symbolic of fertilizing the ground of the nativity scene…it brought good luck and joy for the next year and not doing so brought adversity.” (wikipedia)  Traditionally, the figurine is placed in the backdrop of the nativity scene, placing it in the foreground is considered disrespectful.  Catalan anthropologist Miguel Delgado pointed out that it could be seen as blasphemous due the negative aspect of defecation, “…for what could be more grotesque than the crucification of Jesus Christ, a bloody public torture and execution as the defining moment in the story of Christianity?” ( wikipedia)  The practice of using the caganer as part of the nativity scene is tolerated by the Catholic church within the areas where the caganer is popular.  Despite the popularity, some opinions are divided and not all Catalan nativity scenes include caganers.

Modern caricalture caganers (source Wikipedia)

Modern caricature caganers (source Wikipedia)

 

El Caganer Going Mainstream

Due to the rise of the popularity of the defecating character manufactures are now creating caganers as political figures, members of the royal families, celebrities, and professional athletes.  These cageners are not only being used for nativity scenes but are now commonly used year round to bring luck or show disrespect to a sports teams, a particular athlete, or certain politicians, etc.

A contemporary Tio (source wikipedia)

A contemporary Tio (source wikipedia)

Tió de Nadal – Christmas Log

Also known as Tió or Soca is Catalan for (“Trunk” or “Log”), or Tronca (“Log”) is a Catalan mythological character that is part of a Christmas tradition that takes place mainly in Catalonia and Aragon regions of Spain.  At the start of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, children would give the Tió a little bit to eat every night and cover him with a blanket to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve or day, the children will command Tió by beating him with sticks while singing songs about Tió de Nadal…And then tió (“the magical log”) will poop out presents such as candies,nuts, and or small toys.

Lyrics of a song about Tió de Nadal

“Caga tió,”           ………………………”Poop log,”

“Caga torró,”       ……………………….”poop nougats,”

“Avellanes i mató,”…………………………. “Hazelnuts and mató cheese,”

“Si no cagues bé,” …………………….”if you don’t poop well,”

“Et daré un cop de bastó,” ……………”I’ll  hit you with a stick,”

“Caga tió!”   …………………………….”poop, log!”

Final Thoughts…

During the process of writing this blog post, I really tried hard to hold back on the silly dirty-minded poop jokes that were running through my mind.  And, I like to think that I was very well behaved, with just one slip. To make up for that slip I would like to finish this blog post with old wise words that have been passed down from generations to generations.

“You never really appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

“Toilet paper, is just one of many good examples.”

From The Weird and The Odd

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, eat well,

And to many healthy bowel movements to you.

 

References

AncientPages.com, & Did Etruscans Solve The Mystery Of Synchronicity And The Secret Language Of The Stars?  Civilizations | Jul 5. (2017, December 17). Caganer: The Pooping Man Is Part Of The Catalonian Christmas Tradition And Nativity Scene. Retrieved December 23, 2019,from http://www.ancientpages.com/2017/12/17/caganer-pooping-man-part-catalonian-christmas-tradition-nativity-scene/.

Caganer. (2019, December 19). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caganer.

Jessop, T. (2016, November 14). What Is the Caganer, the ‘Defecating’ Catalan Christmas Figurine? Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-catalan-caganer/.

Patterson, L. (2017, December 22). A Catalan Log That Poops Nougats At Christmas. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/12/22/572569325/caga-ti-a-catalan-log-that-poops-nougats-at-christmas.

Tió de Nadal. (2019, December 17). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tió_de_Nadal.

What Is a Caganer and Why Is It Part of a Catalan Christmas? (2010, December 24). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/12/24/what-is-a-caganer-and-why-is-it-part-of-a-catalan-christmas/.

 

 

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