A Caga Tio and a Caganer for Christmas

Europe is rife with great Christmas traditions, but there are two that are unique to Catalunya and that both belong in this blog.

Caga Tio, the shitting log
Caga Tio, the shitting log

Caga Tio (“poo log”) is a hollow log that is kept warm under a blanket and “fed” every day starting December 8; on Christmas day, the log is prodded with a stick to defecate presents.  Kids are sent away to pray  for good gifts, so that adults can load its rear end with candy and small gifts.

El Caganer is the figure of a peasant, pants down, taking a dump.  The figurine is placed at the back of nativity scenes and kids are asked to find it.  The origin of this character is obscure: scholars have offered several theories (Wikipedia’s entry lists eight of them, ranging from fertility symbol, counterpoint to excessive ornamentation, to (my favourite) “a lost link between transcendence and contingency”.

Caganer figurines
Caganer figurines

The Caganer is not an unimportant relic.  In 2005 citizens of Barcelona complained when City Hall commissioned a nativity scene that omitted the character.  As reported in the BBC, Joan Lliteras, a Catalan folklorist, said

There was the legend that if a countryside man did not put a caganer in the nativity scene, he would have a very bad year collecting vegetables. [A colleague offered] that defecation is the great leveller, a reminder that we are all equal. Otherwise, he suggests, the focus on faeces is just another sign of how the Catalans love to be different.

The six-meter tall Caganer in the Maremagnum shopping mall, Barcelona
The six-meter tall Caganer in the Maremagnum shopping mall, Barcelona 2013
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s