Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pixaner i Caganer

A few days before Christmas 2006, my two sisters, my aunt Margaret and I laughed ourselves silly as Anna explained to us the ins and outs of Catalan Christmas. Rather than Santa and stockings, the Catalans have a trunk. But not like a chest with presents. Instead, a dead tree with a face drawn on him. He is called the "cagatió", which means the "shitting uncle". The children chant to the stump and ask him to shit them presents. We leave Santa food to be nice; the Catalans leave the cagatió food "so that he shits more presents."

This Christmas I came Barcelona to see the cagatió for myself only to discover the Catalans do much weirder things for Christmas.

They are big fans of nativity scenes. They do them well. Rather than being all soft and wintery, the three wisemen look like they came straight out of the desert. They have turbans and wear robes. The background in front of which the porcellan characters stand is quite detailed. Anna's dad even went to two different Christmas markets just to get a new baby jesus because the old one broke. As you can see, he didn't even suceed.

In these scenes, the Catalans like to include a pixaner or a caganer. Pixaner is Catalan for pisser and caganer means shitter, both as in the guy who pisses or shits. Right in front of this gorgeous nativity scence there is a Catalan in traditional clothing wearing a red hat (in front of the tree) taking a dump!

Here are lovely pictures of the shitters and dumpers that I snapped at the Christmas market right in front of Barcelona's main cathedral. They are quite detailed in that they show not only the stream of urine and and a man poised to take a dump, but also a pile of feces.And I took all this pictures with a SLR camera, so you can click on them and zoom in to see the Christmas spirit in detail!

They also turn celebrities into caganers such as soccer player Thierry Henri and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

You can order your own from this website. http://www.caganer.com/

Merry Christmas

2 comments:

Thundertype said...

Ben, great post, I became red in the face from laughing so hard. Those crazy Catalan. Since you refuse to join Facebook I have also posted this amazing blog post to my page, thus boosting your ad revenues.

Can't wait to see you in April. Happy non-denominational holidays.

barg said...

Zut alors! I'm having trouble thinking of any other cultural tradition that is more bizarre. I can think of more gruesome, but for downright strangeness, I think this one takes the cake.