Rushville Republican

December 10, 2013

The straight poop on a Catalonian Christmas

By Don Stuart
Rushville Republican

---- — Brothers in-law have been the butts of insulting jokes throughout televised human history. I don’t know why. Heck, I’m a really good one. Oh, and, um, let me hastily add, so are the guys who are my brothers in-law.

One of my brothers in-law gave me the tip that led to this column, which I will now begin:

There’s a familiar partygoer’s rant that says “Every party has a pooper, that’s why we always cover the floors with all-weather tarps when we host parties.”

You might think about your own party-giving experiences and say “Hmmmm, I never intentionally invite a party pooper. Who would do that?”

Well, in at least one culture that I hope you were not raised in because I’m about to mock it, a party pooper is not only tolerated, but actually welcomed as one of the most desired guests.

I refer to the “Caganer,” a Spanish word that translates roughly to “Defecator.” Believe it or not, throughout the region of northern Spain known as Catalonia, the caganer is a traditional fixture of Christmas Nativity scenes, even scenes with no bathroom fixtures.

The typical Catalonian Nativity depicts the entire town of Bethlehem, not just the manger. The caganer, posed in the anatomically correct squatting position, complete with dropped drawers and a facsimile of his, um, output, is usually placed in an out of the way location, far from the manger. This is an especially big relief, so to speak, to actors in Catalonia’s living Nativities.

How did the caganer come to be dumped into Catalonian Christmas tradition? Some believe that it may simply be an extension of the earthy ethos of the Catalonians, who are known to say before a meal “Eat well, (caga) strong, and scoff at death!” It’s also said that children eagerly look forward to finding the caganer’s Nativity hiding spot each year. . .sort of a “Where’s Wal-doo” thing.

Other theories suggest that the caganer represents the equality of all peoples, or that his presence makes the Nativity story more “natural,” and therefore more believable. All I know is the word “caganer” is waaaaay easier to get past the censors of a family newspaper than its Dutch equivalent: “schijterkes.”

But wait, there’s more! The caganer isn’t the only poop-ular character in Catalonian Christmas festivities: There’s also Caga Tio!

“Caga tio” means “the pooping guy,” and yes, he’s pretty much identical in design to the caganer. The big difference is, caga tio figurines and statues are eagerly welcomed INSIDE Catalonian homes during the holiday season.

Historically, caga tio has been depicted as a typical Catalan peasant, in a typical Catalan squat. Nowadays, clever Catalonian businesspersons produce and sell caga tios, and Nativity scene caganers too, in a multitude of designs, including likenesses of movie stars, professional athletes, politicians, cartoon figures, and cartoonish politicians.

Since I’ve been a regular columnist for quite a while now, the Republican hopes to generate some holiday-season profits by making and selling a collectible caganer made in my image. I was all set to sign a deal, but my accountant brother in-law told me to wait; he thinks he can negotiate a better one, for a schijterkes-load more money.