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Your No. 2 favorite Christmas tradition
December 12, 2011 7:35 PM   Subscribe

No Nativity scene is complete without the caganer - a figure caught in the act of taking a dump near the manger. (NSFW tag, ahoy!) The figurine (whose name translates as "the shitter") is an addition to the Nativity tableaus in the Catalonia region of Spain. Some interpret the caganer as a reminder that God can arrive on earth at any moment - and he doesn't care if he catches you with your britches down.

The caganer figure is deeply rooted in the national identity of many Catalan people. Journalist Josep Pernau suggested the caganer should replace Cobi as the mascot for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He declared: "better a plump caganer with full thighs than a 'designer dog,'" which earned him special recognition by the the Friends of the Caganer, an association (ass-ociation?) dedicated to keeping the tradition alive.

In 2005, Barcelona administrators banned the figure from that year's Nativity display, to encourage compliance with a recent city-wide law against public defecation. Massive protests forced the city to restore the caganer for the 2006 season.

Traditional caganer figures are dressed in the garb of a Catalan peasant, but you can collect any number of personas: Santa Claus; Papa Smurf; a wide variety of politicians, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Silvio Berlusconi; Darth Vader; or a Playmobil-styled caganer to match the Playmobil Nativity playset.


[Caganers previously on metafilter, and previouslier.]
posted by The demon that lives in the air (64 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by googly at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2011 [17 favorites]


Metafilter: caught in the act of taking a dump near the manger.
posted by michaelh at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


What is this... I can't even... This is real? You didn't just go make up a prank Wikipedia page and fake a couple old posts? Why am I just hearing about this?

I guess it's really true that you learn something new every day.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Keeping the "Christ! WTF?" in Christmas.

I think all the little Nativity scenes in our house will feature this. At least until Mrs. MCable sees it.
posted by Mcable at 7:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am now going to sleep and trying not to think about a Krampus with a barrel of shit-covered caganers on his back. Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The knowledge that someone's little ol' grandma in Spain has, like, a curio cabinet full of these things fills me with all kinds of holiday cheer.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow! My font of useless information is fuller thanks to this post :)
posted by Calzephyr at 7:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, this makes so much sense why my (quite demure) mother in law had a nativity scene with a shitting child behind the barn. I always thought it showed a spark of some hidden sense of humor. I guess I know better now...
posted by nasayre at 7:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus pooped.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is there a good way to use el caganer if you'd never have a nativity scene? How some guy crapping behind/in a wooden box that one could attach to a wreath?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2011


Ah yes, the gifts of the four wisemen: gold, frankincense, myrrh, and poo.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


I demand a Krampus vs. Caganer cage match.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lutoslawski: at the risk of threadsitting a bit, I'd like to direct you to the caganer wise man - who, I might note, poops a wrapped present.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, that shitting Vader, is that Lucas (tm) approved?

(if not, please don't tell him, at least until my shitting Vader arrives at my doorstep).
posted by el io at 7:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That wiki page led to this one.


Shit log,

shit turrón,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don't shit well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
shit log!


Am I being punk'd??
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:58 PM on December 12, 2011


From the lyrics of "Do You Hear What I Hear?":

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king
Do you know what I know?


A Child, a Child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold


Silver and gold? How about a fucking blanket? Bring the shivering child a blanket. I always picture the shivering baby covered in silver and gold as a result of this shepherd boy's asinine idea.
posted by flarbuse at 7:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pa rum pa pa pum. Poot.
posted by bondcliff at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy shit!
posted by macrowave at 8:11 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


huhuhuhuhuhuh Putin
posted by contraption at 8:13 PM on December 12, 2011


How much of an issue is public defecation in Spain anyway?
posted by arcticseal at 8:14 PM on December 12, 2011


Just when you think Christianity can't get any weirder...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, epoysterical in a sense.
posted by Mcable at 8:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is vastly more poop lying around French cities than Spanish cities, but that's mostly the French dogs.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:20 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a classical musician, I find myself in a LOT of churches this time of year.

My heritage is also Spanish. Lemme tell ya, the urge to carry a stash of these little guys in my gig bag and smuggle them into the nativity as I make my rounds is almost too much to bear...
posted by Wossname at 8:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


yes, and let us not forget the Caga Tio, that friendly holiday log that poops turron candies when you whack it with a stick! oh catalans, you are my favourite.
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, why is Darth Vader's poo black, too? Must be all the bad midichlorians...
posted by dhens at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really hope the rapture doesn't happen when I'm mid-dump.

Also, I know what I'm getting everyone for Christmas! Stocking stuffer caganers for everyone!
posted by 26.2 at 9:00 PM on December 12, 2011


Just when you think Christianity can't get any weirder...

Perhaps, but I frankly find stuff like this counts more in favor then detracts. It's when things get over sanitized that weird overly esoteric (um) shit happens.
posted by edgeways at 9:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is one on ebay going for $33.00, with 7 hours left. This is so weird.
posted by JujuB at 9:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine one could make a pretty cool chess set out of these figurines. And that chess set would make a nifty Christmas gift.
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus pooped.

Everybody poops.
posted by birdhaus at 10:01 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


About 5 seconds after I clicked on this link the Anthony Bourdain episode I was watching mentioned the shitting Catalan nativity log. WTF
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine was helping his father die, and his father had pretty much lost control of his bowels, poor guy was spraying shit around, and he'd lost an arm in a car wreck early in his life and he was sick and weakened and he couldn't get around well on his own and couldn't clean himself well at all having just that one arm, so my buddy walked/carried him to the shower and cleaned him off only to have it happen again and again of course. And my friend was going out of his friggin' mind, and he'd call me, for support, for friendship.

And again and again I told him "Where there's life, there's shit. Part of the deal. Kids, old people, dogs, horses, pretty girls, fish in the goddamn gulf—everybody and everything that has life that includes food also includes shit. Part of the show. Anything worth loving, anything that makes life worth living, it's got some shit running close-by. It's all just part of the show. Where there's life, there's shit." And we'd talk and he'd be totally worn to nothing but sometimes talking helps, in fact sometimes it's the only thing that helps, or so it seems to me, and off he'd go to the washer and/or the dryer, towels and sheets and clothing and on and on and on. More than once his father sprayed shit around while Matthew was cleaning him off. They were living, is what they were doing.

And that's what I like about this thing. Yeah, there's hosannas and Trumpets Unto The Lord and all that jive, the whole myth in it, mangers and camels and whatever else, but the fact is that behind that myth there's a kid being born, and that is insanely beautiful, case could easy be made it's the most beautiful piece in humanity, and the most joyous, and everybody's happy and jumping up and down, passing out cigars and shit, and glad-handing each other but with sincerity for once, even republicans, and crying coming straight from their guts for the joy and acheful beauty that's in It All and right over here is Melvin, squatted down taking him a big dump.

Melvin is supposed to be taking a dump. Of course he looks like a dope as he's squatted there, of course he looks surprised and humbled and he's likely mad about being caught out, same as you would be—I damn sure don't want you coming in the john when I'm sitting on the can, much less if I was outdoors with my drawers dropped, trying hard to not poop on my shorts. (Or my robe raised, were it Back Then, in The Holy Land or whatever.) Hell, many dogs are humbled to be seen taking a shit, they like to slink around over there behind the bush and I don't blame them, not one little bit.

This thing goes well with that Jefferson bible post, where all The Miracles were taken out of that bible, leaving people in it, in all their glory, and in all their humanity. Or, rather, not in all of their humanity, or we'd have heard about about some of the fart jokes ol' JC and the guys told as they slummed from town to town, waving palm leaves around and telling parables and praying and stuff, we'd have heard about Him throwing shit as he died nailed naked to a stick. I've never had a kid but my understanding is that Dear Sweet Mom, as she's popping a kid out, like as not there's more than just a kid showing up on the scene, and there'd have been more straw needed at that dang stable—maybe that's why nobody would give them a room inside?—and those Wise Men might need to watch their step, this might have been a test of sorts to see how Wise these guys really are, their very own Biblical Challenge…
posted by dancestoblue at 10:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


Happy Birthday Jesus! Hope you like crap!
posted by mazola at 10:57 PM on December 12, 2011


flarbuse:
A Child, a Child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold

Silver and gold? How about a fucking blanket? Bring the shivering child a blanket.
"

That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time—thanx! You, Sir, are a funny, funny man.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:04 PM on December 12, 2011


I live in Barcelona but am not natively from here. The Catalans are a strange people - but then again, I suppose everyone is from the point of view outside of the group. They just don't see that the caganer is weird. Or even the shitting log being beaten with sticks by the kids while dad hides under a blanket behind it, making farting noises and throwing poo-like candy. Locals I know are amazed that other cultures don't know about the Caganer, they assume that it's a universal Xmas thing. So strange, they're responsible for something as weird as that and something as cool as the castellers.
posted by conifer at 1:33 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah every year we get a caganer and a krampus post for Christmas. That's not to say they aren't awesome.
posted by Joe Chip at 1:55 AM on December 13, 2011


It seems Krampus poops earlier every year.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:14 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aaaand countdown to 2girls1manger site in 5...4...3...
posted by middleclasstool at 4:54 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


About 5 seconds after I clicked on this link the Anthony Bourdain episode I was watching mentioned the shitting Catalan nativity log

it is a poopsmas miracle
posted by elizardbits at 5:11 AM on December 13, 2011


Ok, so NOW are they finally going to make a Mitt Romney caganer?
posted by orme at 5:14 AM on December 13, 2011


Silver and gold? How about a fucking blanket? Bring the shivering child a blanket.

He didn't need a blanket, he had a cat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:24 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


at the risk of threadsitting a bit....

As is probably not surprising, I read that as "threadsHitting."

I read about these guys some years ago while researching an article about the tio de Nadal (the pooping log). Another suggested function of the caganer I came across was that it sometimes was a way to amuse kids -- you're bored in church, or you're visiting grandma with all your cousins, and then you realize you can play a little game of "hey, where's the caganer this year?" The inherant "ooooo hahahaha he's making a poo" amusement also entertains kids.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:31 AM on December 13, 2011


dancestoblue, that was a beautiful post.

It is true that life = shit. One of the best things about modern life is the sewer system so that we can all happily forget that all the other humans we know are poop factories. Everybody relentlessly pooping.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:35 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much of an issue is public defecation in Spain anyway?

I wondered about that too. When it's not enough to pass a law against public defecation, because you also need a public campaign to encourage compliance and have to ban certain kinds of holiday displays to prove you are serious--there's got to be something going on here that I'm not getting.
posted by layceepee at 6:09 AM on December 13, 2011


This, I think, is the greatest bunch of comments I've read in quite some time. Thank you, all!
posted by Man with Lantern at 6:10 AM on December 13, 2011


How much of an issue is public defecation in Spain anyway?
posted by arcticseal


Earlier this year I was in Cordoba on vacation. It is a lovely city and, if you have an interest in history, an endless source of delight. There is a large bridge over a river, built in old Muslim style, lovely in itself. It's night time, and an indescribably generous man stands right in the middle of it, playing a ghostly saxophone that echoes throughout all of the city and fills the night with an intensity you can touch. Near the bridge, on the riverside, there is a large spot of manicured grass with colorful flowers planted to spell "Cordoba 2016", a reference to Cordoba being a Cultural Capital, an european thing we do to promote cities.

At this time, a man deliberately walks all the way to the grass spot and pees on the Cordoba spelling flowers.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:19 AM on December 13, 2011


I'm pretty sure I could spend the morning on caganer.com, trying to pick a favorite.

As much as the *point* of these seems to be very much that the figure is shitting, I've taken a shine to the ones where it's sort of a surprise that there's shit when you turn them around.

The Skier is the most masterful of these, I think. The runner-up is probably The Surgeon. While he's a little more hunched over, I really like that he's making sure his gloves stay sterile as he squeezes out a hot coil.

On the celebrity side, Ronaldo looks very stoic. Maradona seems entirely too comfortable with what he's doing.

But the most fun is to be found on the "Comic" page. Sherlock Holmes continues his investigation as he makes. What I like most is that the bulk of these crap their skin or clothes tone. This is mildly amusing for The Simpsons and Spongebob (Bob Esponja. Love it!) slightly terrifying for Hello Kitty and The Smurfs, and just badass for Darth Vader and his glossy black poo.

On a sidenote, the wife and I are slow-rolling into our Christmas media this year, and saving the true classics like Die Hard and Gremlins until a little closer to the big day. Still, after decorating the tree last night we wanted to watch *something*, and settled on the Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo episode of South Park. I'm having a hard time believing that the caganer wasn't at least partial inspiration.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:24 AM on December 13, 2011


The caganer's got nothing on this year's new hotness, a decapitated skeleton in a santa suit nailed to a cross.
posted by peeedro at 6:44 AM on December 13, 2011


Silver and gold? How about a fucking blanket? Bring the shivering child a blanket. I always picture the shivering baby covered in silver and gold as a result of this shepherd boy's asinine idea.

At some point I took to singing that line as "let us bring him blankets and fire," much to my wife's amusement. It also gives me something to talk about after Christmas Eve services so that my in-laws are spared my yearly rant about how much I hate "Silent Night."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 AM on December 13, 2011


The gifts were for his parents to barter with, silly.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:08 AM on December 13, 2011


Beats the American Christian tradition of acting as if their deity was really obsessed with football games.
posted by sotonohito at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This happens. My very non-Christian religion has possession by gods as part of its tradition. When I was getting ready for my ordination as a priest, my goddess showed up early while I was in the bathroom taking a dump. I know she did it on purpose just to mess with me.
posted by Foosnark at 7:44 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, Discordian then?
posted by eritain at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If anyone feels that their (or their neighbors') nativity scene would be improved by a little defecatory adornment, I hereby declare that I will hire myself out as a real-life caganer, and will, in the spirit of Yuletide cheer, happily crap on it.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:17 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I hear nostalgic waxing about the damn good old days, my answer to them is not computers or cell phones no no no no no no.

The pinnacle of modern civilization is Baby Wipes.
posted by bukvich at 8:42 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most Nativity scenes call out for some additions. The trick is to see how long they last before the women in my family notice. A caganer is a little more than I've managed to add so far, but there's still time.
posted by mdoar at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I could spend the morning on caganer.com, trying to pick a favorite.

Nah. Shitting Sarah Palin takes that prize as soon as you lay eyes on her bare bottom.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2011


Secret Life of Gravy: dancestoblue, that was a beautiful post.


...for me to POOP on!
posted by dr_dank at 4:13 PM on December 13, 2011


Someone needs to make a band and call it Krampus Caganer.
posted by lubujackson at 7:07 PM on December 13, 2011


Looks like Wonkette reads MeFi.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe the New York Times does too.
posted by Tesseractive at 5:26 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear, MeFi didn't break this.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:10 PM on December 18, 2011


I so hope this tradition comes to the U.S.  Americans prefer enormous inflatable christmas decorations, of course.

Fortunately, the Catalan have already begun the enlargement process. Americans need only make him inflatable with the mass production outsourced to China
posted by jeffburdges at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2011


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