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WHO SAID THAT? WHO DID THAT?

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What's going on in the Nativity scene?
20 December 2019 @ 09:46

 

No doubt we are all familiar with the obligatory baby Jesus in the manger scene rolled out every Christmas, but the early 18th-century inhabitants of Catalonia, Italy, and certain areas of Southern France started a different tradition that lives on to this day.

Unlike the English-speaking version of the Nativity scene, Catalonians at Christmas time actually build a large model of the city of Bethlehem. The Caganer, whose origins have been lost in time, is a particular and highly popular feature of these modern interpretations.

Often tucked away into a small corner of the nativity scene, one can find a lone figure caught in the act of defecation. There are more than a handful of guesses as to how and why this tradition started ranging from the figure representing the equality of all people (everyone poops!) or that it symbolises the idea that God will manifest himself when he is ready, without regard whether humans are ready for him. Still, others believe it is a tradition grown from comic relief.

Nonetheless, it is said that not exhibiting him brings misfortune since his faeces fertilize the ground and also bring luck and happiness for the year ahead.

Traditionally, the Caganer wears a barretina (typical Catalan hat like a beret) and holds a pipe in his mouth, but over the years this tiny fellow has evolved to the extent that nowadays we find models of celebrities, politicians, actors, musicians and football players, as well as Caganers dedicated to towns, to distant traditions, to jobs, and to animals. 

Whatever your thoughts, if you find yourself travelling in the region around Christmas time it’s highly encouraged to take a second look at the scaled down Bethlehem and see if you can find their little “Caganer.”

 

 
 


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