Christmas is one of the biggest festivals celebrated around the world. It marks the birth of Jesus Christ and the advent of Christianity. Through the years, Christmas has been associated with a myriad of characters and legends, who are believed to have existed, and are brought to the forefront time and again during this time of the year, for some entertainment. The tales of Christmas include all sorts of whacky characters, from old women gift-givers like Befana to the green Grinch and the fables associated with Christmas make the festivities and customs all the more exciting, especially for children. It is true that every country and every culture has unique Christmas character/s in folklore. Also, there are certain Christmas characters and symbols that are universal to the celebrations, for e.g., Santa Claus. Caganer is one of the most beloved characters of the Catalan traditions. Although he is associated with mockery, defamation and humor, the figure is a representation of creative reinterpretation and whacky, Christmas-inspired imagination. Read on for some hearty laughs and more information on Caganer, the funny Christmas character.
The Funny Christmas Character
Caganer And The Nativity Scene
A Nativity Scene is an artificial representation of the scene during Jesus Christ's birth in the stable. Although the representation was originally found in churches and convents, the artificial creche was slowly adopted into the homes and villages. Today, it is indispensable to Christmas and reminds people of the humble roots of Christianity. Caganer is one such figure that is a part of the whole troupe of people who visited the son of God, when he was born. Caganer is always shown standing on the side of the shed in his infamous pose. He is shown indulging in hideous, defaming acts by pulling his pants down and making a mockery of all those present during the birth. However, it is believed that his fertile depositions fertilize the soil where the crib lies, and the coming year is rich and productive. Although Caganer's tale was a hilarious one, people still include this figure in the Christmas cribs for pride, happiness, luck and fertility.
Although Caganer was a seemingly obliged figure in the Christmas cribs in the eighteenth century, there is a lot more to this character than just his bodily depositions and his presence at the shed. It is said that Caganer was also depicted indulging in various motifs and imagery as a man who indulged in various trades. Legend states that Caganer was first incorporated in the 18th century where a lot of importance was given to local literature, life and customs. Caganer was a creation that stemmed from the ideals of the working class mentality. All at once, the character represented the human condition in an ironic, crude and scatological manner. Caganer grew to prominence in Spain, in most parts of Italy and Southern France. Initially, the figure of a farmer boy excreting in the holy manger of Jesus Christ's birth was considered uncouth and disrespectful. However, over the years, Catholic churches around the world began to accept the presence of this character in the artificial nativity scenes, and would often ask children to spot Caganer out of all the visitors. Caganer figures, like many other Christmas figures, have gone through years and possibly, decades of cultural filtering. In modern times, Caganer is considered to be a cross between a humorous, cult figure and a symbolic character whose excreta would fertilize the soil, and bring with it, a prosperous new year.
Craftsmen have created two versions of Caganer, a male and a female version. Yes, even female Caganer can be spotted in nativity scenes, wearing skirts. However, it is the male figures that are usually depicted during the holiday season. The traditional Caganer is depicted as a shoddy farmer in a squatting position, topped with a 'barretina' (Catalan cap), answering nature's call in the manger. He is also shown with a pipe or a cigarette in his mouth while doing his humorous deed in the presence of other figures. Caganer figurines are usually dressed in traditional farmer attire but in parts of Europe, Caganer is usually portrayed dressed in traditional Hebrew apparel.
Although many would believe that the character of Caganer is one that spews hilarity, the truth lies in the character's symbolism. Many a times, people mistake this popular Christmas character as a joke, but the actual fact lies in the belief that his excreta fertilizes the soil and brings good luck for the coming year. At the end of all this, it really depends on the person and which facet of this character they choose to see. Either ways, Caganer is an important Christmas character that is believed to have brought conviviality, lightness and joviality to archaic Christmas traditions and, of course, the nativity scenes.