Sunday, December 20, 2009

‘Caganer in Cagalunya’

There is a Christmas Market in the Porxada selling decorations for the festive season. My son wants to build a little nativity scene. We have never done this before.  He is very interested in the Romans.

While we were admiring the little statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and toga draped Romans, we also came across a little man with his pants down squatting in a most surprising position. We discovered the ‘pooper’, or as he is named on the internet, the Caganer.
Truly, to the uninitiated, it’s a shocking thing to see amongst the wise men, shining stars and angels.

A traditional Catalan caganer from the front.

It seems the custom started in the 17th century, but nobody seems to know why it started or why it is still popular today. Now it is part of the Catalan tradition, and can also be found in other parts of Spain and in Portugal and Italy.

Coming from a reserved and rather dry British culture, it’s hard for me to see the humour in such a thing. I can only surmise it was an act of resistance, the same way the Catalans are symbolised by the donkey, instead of the bull as of other parts of Spain.

However, from all accounts, the Catalans are practical, pragmatic people who like do not like to stand on ceremony. They are straight forward, to the point and say things like  "menja bé, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort!" (Which was translated as Eat well, shit strong and don't be afraid of death!)

If I think more along these lines, I must say I was also shocked when I first heard people swear  by defecation on God, Mother Mary and Jesus  in what seems to be the most disrespectful way to my ears.

I have also heard that you beat a ‘poo log’ for presents at Christmas time?

My son came home from school the other day laughing and saying ‘Cagalunya’. At first, I told him that this was disrespectful, but after further consideration, and all the pooping going on, maybe its not such an ill fitting name after all. 

Originally posted in the Revista del Valles

Image thanks to Wikipedia

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