Posted by Remo Giuffré on
The Caganer (meaning literally "the shitter" in Catalan) is a traditional Christmas figurine that is often depicted as a peasant wearing a classic red Catalan “barretina” cap; squatting with his pants down and his bum exposed, having just taken a shit. He may also be smoking a pipe and/or reading a newspaper.
The figurine is often hidden in a Nativity scene, usually among the livestock or in a corner where it is not immediately noticeable.
The Caganer has been a part of Catalan Christmas traditions since the 18th century, although the exact origins of the figurine are not known. Some say the Caganer represents the fertilisation of the earth and is a symbol of good luck and prosperity for the coming year. Others suggest that the Caganer may have originally been a way to poke fun at the wealthy and powerful, as it was common for the figurine to resemble a well-known public figure or politician.
In modern times, the Caganer has become an important part of Catalan culture and is celebrated in many different forms. There are Caganer figurines designed to look like famous people, politicians, and celebrities; as well as more traditional versions that feature peasants, shepherds, and other common folk. Traditional caganers are made from clay, fired in a kiln of more than 1,000ºC, then hand-painted. For a demonstration, watch this video on caganer.com.
Despite its somewhat crude appearance, the Caganer is a beloved and important part of Catalan Christmas traditions. In 2005, the Barcelona city council provoked a public outcry by commissioning a nativity scene which did not include a caganer. Many saw this as an attack on Catalan traditions. Following a campaign against the caganer's absence called Salvem el caganer (Save the caganer), and widespread media criticism, the 2006 nativity restored the caganer.
The tradition of the Caganer has also spread to other parts of Spain and beyond, with similar figurines now being produced in other countries such as Italy, Portugal, and even as far away as Latin America.
The figure is so popular it even has its very own society, the Friends of the Caganer Association. Founded in 1990, the society has around 70 members, some from as far afield as the US, who meet twice a year.
1. The Caganer. Image Credit: Shutterstock
2. Nativity Scene with lurking Caganer
3. Modern caricature caganers for sale at caganer.com
4. Obama. Credit: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty
5. Pope Francis. Credit: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty
6. Frida Kahlo at caganer.com
7. Homer Simpson at caganer.com
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