Christmas Traditions – The Caganer

Donald Trump – Caganer

The things you learn as you travel…..

The world is chock-full of odd Christmas traditions, from Santa’s Austro-Bavarian demon-helper, the Krampus, to Saint Nick literally having eyes on the back of his head in Japan. Kids growing up in Catalonia, on the other hand, have not one but two different poop-themed traditions to look forward to every Christmas: the Caganer and the Tió de Nadal.

The Caganer is an interesting figure in Catalonian Christmas celebrations. His name translates to something like “The Crapper” and he is usually found tucked away in the corner of the manger scene taking care of business. Traditionally, the Caganer is depicted as wearing a traditional Catalonian red cap and white peasant shirt, although figures modeled to look like celebrities, politicians, and even the Pope are also popular.

The Caganer has graced Catalonia Christmas celebrations with his presence for over 200 years, but no one is really sure how he first showed up. For some people, the pooping figure symbolizes fertility and some legends in rural communities hold that a Nativity scene without a Caganer would lead to a bad growing season.  Others say that the irreverent figure is meant to humble establishment figures or that it demonstrates that no one can be prepared for when Jesus will appear. And some even say that the poop was a birthday gift, of sorts.

“It was the only thing the little shepherd boy had to give the Baby Jesus,” Nancy Duneuve told Rainsford. “So it’s not at all disrespectful, it’s a great gift.”

Oddly, the Caganer isn’t Catalonia’s only poop-themed Christmas tradition: there’s also the Tió de Nadal, or “Log of Christmas.” At first glance, the Tió de Nadal looks like a bit like a silly ornament, a log with a goofy cartoon face painted on it and wearing a red cap like the Caganer. Starting with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, children make sure to “feed” the log treats and candy every day to make it “grow” over the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“I think the most exciting part was feeding our tió at school and seeing him grow,” Lara Gascón, who grew up in Andorra, tells Angela Hui for Munchies. “We used to believe the log will grow if we fed it properly and the bigger it would become, the better Christmas gifts we would receive.”

Tió de Nadal are so popular that there are special artisans called tionaires who spend almost the entire year crafting the poop logs for Christmas. While the piñata-like log is traditionally male, in recent years female “tionas” have become just as popular, Hui reports.

As Christmas gets closer, parents switch out the Tió de Nadal with bigger logs, to make it look like it gets bigger as it eats treats. But the real event comes on Christmas Eve, when children take the smiling log that they’ve lovingly fed for weeks and beat it with sticks until it poops out candy and cake, Hui writes. There’s even a traditional song that kids sing while smacking the log, although, unsurprisingly, the translation is a bit vulgar.

It’s unclear whether the Tió de Nadal and the Caganer are connected outside of the obvious (and smelly) theme.

Adios Virgin Gorda & Hola Barcelona

We’ve enjoyed our time “babysitting” our friends boat in the bvi’s and now it’s time to head “home” to Morpheus. 

She has been well taken care of at EMV a Swan Service yard just North of Barcelona, Spain.   We are excited to get back to her. 

But boy oh boy is it cold in New York!

And, the culture shock of a visit to JFK during the holiday rush doesn’t really put you in the Christmas spirit!!  Two people “forgot” their bags as we worked our way through check in and security. That got my attention….

30 SCREAMIN’ Days with Friends and FIRE!!

We have spent the last 30 days with Torben and Judy Bensten, our friends from Richmond Yacht Club (RYC) who left on their similar adventure from RYC 3 weeks before us.  We have been running into them periodically for the last 6 years, but this time takes the cake.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I have come close to burning up at least 4 times over the last month. Between the lightning storm on the way over to Barcelona from Minorca, the HUGE fire works show during the Merce, the Parade of Fire where my boob caught on fire, and a battery super nuclear chain reaction melt down (Ita woke me up to this one.  Good Dog, Ita!), I’m kinda done with  fire for this year, even though we have had a “SCREAMING” good time with them every minute!  (Judy has a tendency toward screaming when scared….)

In addition to Judy and Torben, we have been visited by, and spent time with, Mark and Deana Rosenberg, Judy’s friends Clark and Barbie, Suzanne, her friends Diane and Tom, and Danny Gutheil and his wife Desiree. September has been a month packed with food, travel, and monsoon rained out horse shows.  With no guest on the horizon and Morpheus neatly tucked into her winter berth in Badalona, October is definitely scheduled to be recovery and rebuilding time.  We have a whole list of boat chores to do, first of which is to get new fire extinguishers!


You’re Gonna Burn!!

Three years ago, Deb and I enjoyed Barcelona’s La Merce Festival for the first time.  We loved it, but really didn’t have any idea what to expect.  When we showed up then for the ultimate event, “The Fire Run”, we had lots of locals warning us that we were not dressed properly.

This time we were ready!  Safety googles provided by Suzanne Rischman, long pants, long sleeved shirts and hats.

And this time rather than watching from the distant sidelines, we decided to commit 100%, follow the locals lead, and join the festivities.

The La Merce Festival is now over, and we need a nice long rest!