All across Christendom we are familiar with the baby Jesus nativity scene that accompanies Christmas.
However, the nativity tradition for the early 18th-century inhabitants of Catalonia, Spain, took a different turn. Part of which lives on to this day.
Unlike the English-speaking version, Catalonians at Christmas time build a large model of the city of Bethlehem, rather than just the wooden manger that Our Lord is believed to have been born in.
This is not the only difference however. The “Caganer”, whose origins have been lost in time, is an important part of the overall depiction.
Often tucked away into a small corner of the model, one can find a lone figure caught in the act of defecation.
As to why they originally decided to include a figurine squatting to take a dump is anyone’s guess, however a few theories do prevail.
It is believed the tradition started with the figure representing the equality of all people (everyone defecates), while others state that it symbolizes the idea that God will manifest himself when he is ready, even if that means us humans are not ready for him, (i.e while on the job).
Still others believe it is quite simply a form of comic relief, to alleviate from the seriousness that is the birth of Christ.
All manner of figurines are available, from Obama squatting down to crimp one out, to Darth Vader caught in the act.
But whatever the reason for this rather unusual tradition, if you find yourself traveling in the region around Christmas time, make sure you spare a moment to take a gander at one of their scaled down Bethlehem’s to see if you can spot the little “caganer.”