Caganer is regarded as a part of the culture of Catalan nativity scenes. Read more to gather information about its significance.
Towards the onset of Christmas, nativity scenes depicting the birth of infant Jesus assume much importance. These nativity scenes essentially include the major characters like infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph. However, there are regional differences in the other characters present in the stable. In some places like Catalonia, and the neighboring Valencia, Northern Catalonia, Andorra and the Balearic islands which follow the Catalan culture, nativity scenes are incomplete without the display of Caganer. This is an interesting character, a short farmer in a red hat, defecating by the manger. He's also referred to as the 'pooper', a name derived from his action. This character is quite popular in Spain, Portugal and some parts of southern Italy (Naples) as well. Caganer is considered to have entered the nativity scene during late 17th or 18th century. According to renowned folklorist Joan Amades, it is an 'essential piece of the nativity scene and has succeeded in winning many hearts. Scroll further to know more about this interesting character!
The Christmas Figure Caganer
- Nativity scenes are one of the important symbols associated with Christmas. In Catalonia, El Caganer is considered to be a unique Catalan character, depicted as a peasant defecating in the manger. It is done just for humor and is not considered offensive.
- His presence within the holy setting may seem weird but it holds significance as a process of fertilization of earth and is believed to bring a successful harvest, in the coming year, along with luck and happiness. This character is extremely popular among the Catalan children.
- As per the traditions, Caganer is represented as a peasant wearing a red barretina, a traditional red men's cap commonly worn by the men in eighteenth century Catalonia. Today, Caganer is represented as a funny look-alike of renowned celebrities, sports personalities, politicians and musicians.
- This feature is unique in the Catalans and is generally not represented in the manger scenes of any other culture. The actual English translation of the name 'Caganer' means 'pooper' and that is what the statue does - defecate.
- You may wonder what could be the relevance of placing a defecating man in the holy nativity scenes. It could be nothing else other than adding a flavor of fun to the festivities. Caganer is believed to fertilize the earth with his feces. The main objective of such a character is to reveal the equality of people, regardless of the gender and occupation.
- It is very easy to find a Caganer in the markets during Christmas season. They have also been featured in many art exhibitions.
Apart from Caganer, the other defecating character in the Catalan Christmas tradition is the Tio de Nadal, that makes the extensive use of the human waste production. These characters, however, add an element of laughter to the Christmas celebrations.