I stumbled upon these interesting cultural traditions, and thought I’d share.
First up, one of my favorite holiday websites:
Sketchy Santas has tons of pics of the oddest Santa Clauses and the funniest crying kids. Ahh Schadenfreude, making your holidays merry and bright.
While perusing said website I found this:
It’s called a Caganer, or pooper, and is popular in parts of Catalonia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, and France. You hide one of these little guys in your nativity scene each year, and it’s a great treat for children to…sniff him out, if you will. Sort of like a Where’s Waldo for the scatalogically inclined. Wikipedia figures that it started as a humorous way to break up the idealized stateliness of a traditional nativity, but also represents how a) we’re all equal in God’s eyes. As the book says, everybody poops b) Jesus can come at any time, and we mean any time.
Recently more modern versions of caganers have become popular. A quick google search shows you the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Michael Jackson, Barack Obama, famous soccer players, the queen of England, Einstein, even Spiderman doing their duty (tee hee) for the Christmas spirit.
Caganers are such a part of the culture that in 2005 when Barcelona decided one year to nix the caganer from its public display- they had recently (only recently?!) outlawed public defecation and urination and thought the caganer was a bad influence- the townspeople protested until they got it back. I can only imagine the type of spirited debate that would happen if someone decided to put a caganer on their lawn in the U.S. It’s not that much different from the peeing fountain kid though, right?
Through the wonders of wiki I also found this little cutie, also from Catalonia and surrounding areas. The Tio de Nadal:
If you’re wondering why these adorable children are attacking these defenseless log-people, it’s because this is a long-drawn out Christmas mugging.
Starting December 8th, mom and dad will pull out their old friend Tio, and the kids will fawn all over it. They “feed” the log every night and put a warm blanket over it so it doesn’t get cold. The log thinks “hey, sweet deal!”…until Christmas morning, that is. The children, all bright eyed, rush downstairs and to the warm, fat Tio. They stick him near their fireplace, then they order him to poop.
When Tio doesn’t poop (because who poops on command?) the happy little children grab their sticks and whack him over and over, singing songs about how much they want to literally beat the sh*t out of him. When poor Tio does finally drop a load, turns out it’s a load of candy and other goodies placed there by the adults, and the little darlings cheer and sing and beat Tio again until each kid has their sweet. Then this piñata-esque log is shoved into the closet until next year! Yay!!!
I’ll look up more random holiday traditions and post them as they come. If anyone has any they know, feel free to include them in the comments section. Happy Holidays everyone! (and no offense meant to Catalonia or its people, feel free to make fun of Santa Claus and Black Friday if you’d like).