December 19th: The Man in the Corner…

As promised we are back on the Christmas trail today and i want to point to that man in the corner of the nativity crib scene. Who is he and what is he doing? Is it Angela Merkel? Is It David Beckham? Is it even Barrack Obama? Well he’s been all of those people and more for if there is indeed a man in the corner of your nativity scene you are looking at what is refered to as a ‘Caganer’… a tradition that comes from the catalan region of Spain (and can be found in a many other areas as well) And in actual fact he’s defecating…

This tradition dates back to at least the Baroque age  (Late 17th/early 18th century). Now in places such as Spain, Italy and France the nativity scene isn’t always just the stable/lean-to where Jesus is being born it’s sometimes the whole of Bethlehem and comes complete with all sorts of extra figures such as washerwoman, the inn keeper and the man having a poo in a corner somewhere He’s usually there in smaller, stable-only nativity scenes as well. Children will usually gather around and search for him. There are a few ideas behind why he’s there but i think my favourite is that ‘God will manifest himself at any time, no matter what we are doing…’

There are some people who believe that the idea of the defecating man is entirely inappropriate for such a holy scene… But it is really popular. It’s so popular that when one public nativity scene didn’t contain a Caganer there was an outcry and the council were forced to place a Caganer into the scene.

In modern times the Caganer has taken on the persona of a well known person or politician such as Barrack Obama for instance and in the past it has been people such as George Bush, Prince Charles and Paris Hilton. I kind of like this idea as it happens and i can see why the Catalonians (and others) do it… It’s a bit of a fun, jokey christmas tradition and maybe one that is actually worth adopting elsewhere… Who knows… Maybe one day I’ll find myself defecating in a corner of Bethlehem… (Ok that sounded wrong!)

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