Well, it’s getting close to Christmas time. And as you walk about, you might notice the nativity scenes in churches, people’s yards, and some store fronts. It’s that classic depiction of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, surrounded by shepherds, wise men, and pasture animals.
Depending on your tradition, the baby Jesus doesn’t actually appear until Christmas Day. So he’s missing from a lot of nativity scenes now.
But there’s somebody else that’ s conspicuously absent as I walk past nativity scenes here in North America: the caganer.
Oh you haven’t met thecaganer? Caganer is Catalan—the language of Catalunya and Barcelona, where my kids were born—for “the pooper” or “the shitter,” depending on who you ask. In the context of Christmas, he’s a little shepherd boy who wears a silly red hat and squats down behind the nativity scene and leaves a big dump on the ground.
Yes, you heard that right. He poops behind the stable. Apparently there was no bathroom in the inn either. And you can find him behind nearly every nativity scene in Barcelona, including those in the churches.
One theory is that he represents fertility and the fertilization of the earth. But who knows. Catalunya is also known for their pooping Christmas log, so it might just be a culture obsessed with feces.
But, traditions are traditions. And I have to admit that while we’re spending this year in the US, I kind of miss the little guy.
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