A Very Catalonian Christmas

As my mates journey abroad, let me share with you about Spanish traditions of the yule’s tide. Por ejemplo, do you know the character of El Caganer (“the great pooper”)? In northeastern Spain, figurines like this one date back to the 1600s and are considered symbols of the greatest healthiness.

Thus, these traditional statues of El Caganer evacuating his bowels are a common sight in Catalonia. Recent figurines include the celebrity, such as my friend Rafael Nadal, or figures such as Dali and Queen Elizabeth.

I know these must seem an oddity to North Americans. But we Spaniards do not count ourselves among the scatalogically prissy!

Before dining, Catalans sometimes say, ¡Menjar bé, i caga fort, i no tinguess por de la mort! (“Eat well, poop strong, and you will have no fear of death!”) And the two rivers that once bordered Barcelona (Catalonia’s capital) were called Merdanca (poop stream) and the Cagallel (turd carrier).

In this Christmas season, Catalan kids play a game searching for the Caganer, who is hidden somewhere in the Nativity arrangement. It is akin to “Where’s Waldo?”, yet with a marked difference.

Ah, the festivities! Now is the time for bakeries to peddle pastries shaped like fecal deposits. And a hollow log known as the Cagatió (“poop log”) packed with gifts. Children beat on the Cagatió with sticks and all sing a song to persuade it to yield its gifts.

Caga tió (Poop log)

tió de Nadal (log of Christmas)

no caguis arengades (don’t poop salty fish)

que són salads. (which are not good.)

¡Caga torrons (Poop almond candies)

que son mes bons! (which are much better!)

El Caganer figurines from Caganer.com,

Cagatió from My Dutch Fairy Tale.

1 comment:

  1. Great summary!
    As a Spaniard I totally subscribe Rudy's ilusory words: we are not among the scatologically prissies.
    A common say in Mallorca goes "eren tres que l'aguantaven i encara pixava tort", which literally means "there were three guys holding him, but his pee was still winding".


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