Sunday, 26 December 2010

El Caganer

(Heh heh. This is the coolest Xmas card I've ever been sent!)

If you've read my short story collections you'll know I'm keen on folklore and like to turn it to erotic use in fiction. And Xmas is of course brimming with motifs ripe for naughtiness: mistletoe, stockings, candles, carol-singing in the dark...

But (and thanks to Mr Ashbless for this particular gem) I now know that I have met my match with the Caganer, a Catalonian Christmas tradition that is, I'm afraid, well beyond the reach of the velvet hand of erotica. The little figure of a man having a dump is considered a vital party of any nativity scene. Why? Nobody knows.

But those potty-obesessed Catalonians don't stop there. Another Christmas tradition is the Poop Log, which is a lump of wood (with or without cheery face) which you "feed" every day from December 8th until Christmas Day, which you hit it with sticks in order to get it to crap out sweeties.

You sing while hitting it:

Poop Log,
Poop nougat,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
If you don't poop well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Poop Log!

Um ...
Real life is so much stranger than fiction!

How was your Xmas day then? Did it involve ritual violence to wooden objects? Nougat? Alcohol poisoning?


Craig Sorensen said...

Um...gee. Uh... no poop log here, nor any pooping Catalonian nativity dude.

I'm thinking Catalonians may struggle with serious bouts of constipation, and maybe a great gift for one would be ruffage.

Serious ruffage.

Any who, my Christmas, by comparison, seems dull.

But it was a fine one, spent with family and eating well and sharing our presents, many of which were favorite movies and music.

Reading gift books.

Hope yours Christmas was wonderful.

Oh, and I love the card!

Jeremy Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy Edwards said...

I notice that the defecating gent is dressed anachronistically for a Nativity scene. Imagine time-traveling some eighteen hundred years just to take a dump! (And doesn't it violate some time-travel code, conservation-of-matterwise, to consume food in the eighteenth century and then leave it behind in an earlier era?)

A bit more seriously: Is it possible he's a representation of Sancho Panza, brought forward from ca. 1600 to ca. 1800... only to buy a new outfit, grab a quick meal, and then rush back to Roman times? I recall a certain scene from Don Quixote...

Jeremy Edwards said...

P.S. Lest anyone think I was confusing "eighteenth century" with "1800s" in my comment above... Sr. Panza looks to me like he's from the 1790s (sort of like a sans-culottes, only with culottes). Thus eighteenth century, but ca. 1800.

Jo said...

Now my friend who spent some times teaching there told me about this, to great hilarity, but she didn't say poop log, she said it was 'shit stick, shit stick, shit out your presents for us.'

The mind boggles with this one :)

thansk for the visuals!

Fulani said...

Yup, it's one of those traditions that seems to defy explanation even for those whose culture it's a part of.

Janine Ashbless said...

Heh heh. I think Im going to have to adopt the Shit Stick as a house tradition :-)

We had a peaceful Xmas here in the Ashbless household - friends for Xmas day, family for boxing day, drank steadily but didn't seem able to get more than a bit merry, ate a ton of carbs ... and now have to get the place ready for our New Year's Eve party. Which means, yes, going out to the DIY warehouse for more paint! Now that's what I called a holiday...

And Jeremy, you have out-history-geeked the lot of us!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Just a former history geek, really. (I knew that degree would come in handy one day.) If any more anachronistic figurines turn up, I'm at your service.

(Heheh—do you know the Python sketch where the crew of a sinking ship dress up in costumes as they compete for space in the lifeboats... and they start arguing over whether a particular Renaissance-era outfit is Flemish or Italian?)

Janine Ashbless said...

And now you have out-Pythoned everyone else too :-)

I feel sort of guilty, being British and not knowing my Python off by heart...