Christmas Folklore, Legends and Traditions,
I am going to kick off this series of posts with something off-color and mildly offensive to grab your attention and appeal to your lower self in order to get you hooked, so, El Caganer!
I lived in Spain for a time and I really loved many of their unique Christmas traditions; Three Kings Day, Turron, their elaborate Nativity scenes, and the guy taking a dump in said Nativity scenes… Yes, there is a little guy called El Caganer (The Shitter) incorporated into all Nativity scenes, and sometimes if you’re lucky there’s a guy peeing as well but he’s not our focus.
The origins of the Caganer are lost but there are many different ideas about why he exists. All we really know is that he began showing up in Nativity scenes sometime in the 17oos. Some say he’s just there to entertain kids and perverts, others say he’s representative of everyone’s equality before God (because we all poop). But the most interesting explanation I’ve heard delves into some pretty strange old catholic superstition. The basic idea is that when you take communion and swallow that wafer, it goes through you body cleansing you of sin and once it has done it’s job you poop out pure sin! In addition to that, the reason that digestive fiber cookies are called Maria Cookies and are so popular in Europe is because Maria (Mary, Jesus’ Mother) works as an intercessory between you and Jesus just as the fiber cookie works as an intercessory in the sin digestion process...
Whatever the reason for having a man crapping in a Nativity scene celebrating the birth of Christ, the tradition is strong and pretty far-reaching. All over Spain, France and Italy you can find these guys. They have celebrity versions from Barack Obama to Charlie Brown, some are small and some are huge, but they all remind us what the true meaning of Christmas is… somehow.