- Author: Jessica Jones •
- Jessica Jones
December 27, 2020
The scene of the birth of Jesus, called “pessebre” in Catalan-it contains all the usual characters: Mary and Joseph staring affectionately at the sleeping man in the manger Baby Jesus, the cows are mooing, and sometimes there are shepherds. But if you look closely, there is a villain hidden in these Christmas standard characters, with his pants half faded, shit in the sacred scene.
The caganer-literally “defecator”-is the main element of Christmas in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. It is usually a farmer wearing black pants, a white shirt and a classic red plus Catalan hat-Barretina (barretina). While shit, he might still be smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper.
“It’s like an interesting link in something that should be very serious,” said Marc-Ignasi Corral, a 53-year-old poop collector from Barcelona, with a smile. Yes, this character is very popular, and it even has its own association, the “Association of Friends of Pooping People” (L’associacio Amics del Caganer), and Corral is a member of the association. The association was founded in 1990 and has about 70 members—some even from faraway America, who meet twice a year.
The traditional pooping man is made of clay, fired in a kiln above 1,000 degrees Celsius, and then hand painted patterns. With the development of the industry, the poop poop is constantly evolving; now, there are many different types of poop poop in both design and materials.
“I have collections of soaps and chocolates-of course these are for eating,” Corral said, his bookshelf filled with more than 200 pooping men in his collection. “I have made it with glass (poopy man)… I have also seen it made with coffee capsules.”
Stools are deeply rooted in local folk traditions, but the specific origins are not clear. But it is generally believed that it can be traced back to the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th century, when the Baroque tradition prevailed, whether in Catalonia or elsewhere, realism prevailed in the fields of art, sculpture and literature. Jordi Arruga and Josep Mana wrote in “El Caganer”: “This is an era characterized by extreme realism… Everything is very dependent on The portrayal of local life and customs. Here, working environment and family life have become the themes of artistic creation.”
Little poop is an artistic depiction of real life.
The reason why it can be passed down from generation to generation is clear: for a long time, people love to associate defecation with everything, from good luck to prosperity to health.
“Dung is equal to fertility, equal to money, equal to luck and prosperity. An anthropologist seems to say that,” said Enric Ucelay-Da Cal, professor emeritus and historian at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
“It is said that not putting the poop in the crib will bring bad luck,” said Marc Alos Pla, a poop manufacturer, whose family runs the world’s largest poop maker caganer.com. He expects sales this year to exceed 30,000.
Moreover, the Catalans do not regard pooping people as vulgar, they think that pooping people are just portraying a very natural behavior.
“We don’t think this is rude behavior, just like you don’t think going to the toilet is rude,” Corral said with a smile. “We avoid talking about things-we live in a society where everything is hidden. For example, we avoid talking about death.”
Moreover, Catalans have more than one Christmas tradition.
Caga Tio, which literally means “poop stick” (also called Tió de Nadal, “Christmas stick”), is also the main element of many Catalan families on Christmas Eve.
At the Immaculate Conception (Immaculate Conception) on December 8, households began to “feed” Christmas sticks. He was covered with a blanket to keep him warm until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, when he was “eat” full, the children beat him with a stick while singing a song that encouraged him to defecate:
Pull out the nougat, hazelnuts and cheese
The stick will not produce any old excrement… he will “drain” the Christmas present.
Before hitting the Christmas sticks, the children would go to the other side of the house to pray that the Christmas sticks would bring them gifts, and their parents would take the opportunity to hide some small gifts such as Christmas candies under the blanket.
Carl said: “The Christmas stick seems to be a very old Christmas concept… In the Middle Ages, from Scandinavia to the Western Mediterranean, almost all of Europe has this tradition, and It lasted until around World War Two.”
Why do these traditions, which may be considered explicit or crude in other parts of the world, attract so many Catalans?
“I like this kind of norms and the traditions they represent, as well as the rebelliousness of the artwork itself,” Corral explained, while Carl said that the poop “has a very good subversive quality, so to speak. Naughty but cute”.
In fact, the theme of shit is not only an element of Christmas, but throughout the Catalan culture, from idioms to art.
“This is in line with Catalonia (and Spain)’s love of egalitarianism: everyone (has to shit), no matter how important they are,” Carl said.
Speaking of language, Catalan is full of proverbs and idioms related to feces. In English, we might say two very close people “as thick as thieves” (as thick as thieves), while in Spanish, the phrase might be “como uña y carne” (como uña y carne), Catalans say that two people are like “butts and feces” (cul i merda).
“There is an old saying that Germanic is full of fecal metaphors, while Romance emphasizes masculinity. There is no doubt that Spanish traditions—especially Catalan customs—are not so. “Carl said.
Shit has appeared in Catalan art and literature, dating back hundreds of years.
The art critic Robert Hughes wrote in his book “Barcelona” that in Joan Miro’s work, the little poop “has no doubt entered the art of the 20th century.” . This book focuses on the history, art and culture of Catalonia.
Take a closer look at Milo’s painting The Farm from 1921 to 1922 and you will see a child squatting next to her mother while she is washing clothes.
Hughes wrote that the boy “is exactly the pooping man of Miró’s childhood Christmas. In the painting “Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement” (1935), It may be Miró himself.”
Catalan writers have also been writing stool, Hughes believes that this is something deeply ingrained in Catalan folk tradition. He wrote: “(Catalonia) folk songs and poems always have a strong stool humor.”
He specifically quoted a passage from the 13th-century Versos Bruts, which described a discussion between two aristocrats. They described “a hundred noble ladies who went out to sea on a boat and could not move forward because of no wind. So they fart in unison on the boat and let the boat return to the shore.”
You might think that there is one area of Catalan culture that doesn’t touch stool, and that is food—but inevitably, you are wrong. If you feel hungry, you might walk into a Catalan bakery and see a popular baked good called “pet de monja” or “nun’s fart” (nun’s fart)-sounds rather unpalatable.
Even Catalan politics is shifting towards toilet humor, and the vigorous independence movement in the region is reflected in the best-selling pooping man. The exiled former Catalan government chairman, Carles Puigdemont (Carles Puigdemont) is the most popular. In 2017, a Tweety Pie (cartoon character) pooping poop sold out (when Spanish When the government sent additional police to curb the 2017 independence referendum, a ship carrying them was printed with a huge Cui Di).
In 2018, a pooping man with a yellow ribbon, big eyes and big mouth, symbolizing the unity of the imprisoned independent leaders of Catalonia, is expected to become the best-selling villain.
“This reflects what is happening,” Corral said. “The pooping man has now become a way to preserve living historical memories. This is a reality. We have political prisoners.”
Although poop poops have not been as popular as Christmas trees around the world, they have become more and more famous outside of Catalonia. In Portugal and Naples, Italy, pooping has long been a tradition and is also attracting lovers from other parts of the world.
“In the Poop Pee Man Association, we have members from Italy, Germany, Japan, and the United States, so this is an international association,” Corral said.
In fact, according to Pula (2018), about 50% of the overseas sales of the caganer.com website are shipped to the United States, and the pooping people include popular figures such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. .
It’s up to you to give someone a pooping person who they like or hate – but many people see this as a compliment:
“For many celebrities, it has become an honor to have their own pooping villains,” said Pula.
Corral is more direct. “If you don’t have your own poop poop, then you are now an anonymous poop.”