Tuesday, December 9, 2008

For Me to Poop On!


Yes, that's a ceramic figurine of president-elect Barack Obama squatting down for a poop. It's currently available in Barcelona, where, according to Yahoo, "statuettes of well-known people defecating are a strong Christmas tradition", at least in the Catalan culture.

The origins of the tradition, which has been going on since the 17th century, are somewhat cloudy, but the Caganer has been a regular fixture in the nativity scene -- yes, the nativity scene -- where he normally looks like this surprised little guy.

And kids try to find him hidden somewhere in the crèche. Whee! What fun! Look at that adorable little "pooper" (which is what caganer means in Catalan). His expression is the universal look of, "Whoops! You caught me pooping too close to the Christ Child!" I think that much is perfectly clear.

This is not a new thing. Archaeologists found an ancient "pooper" from the 17th century that depicted, "a holy Iberian warrior defecating on his falcata," which I'm sure is less painful than it sounds. And since the 1940s, celebrities, athletes, historical figures, politicians and Spanish royalty have been re-imagined as caganers. Thus, the Yes We Can pooper.

But it's not like the caganer is the only defecating character in the Catalan Christmas tradition. Oh no...not by a long shot.

Let me introduce you to the "poop log." I am NOT making this up!

Apparently, there's a Christmas tradition built around the Tió de Nadal (roughly "Christmas Log"). For the explanation, let me turn the mic over to Wikipedia,
Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to "eat" every night and usually covers him with a little blanket so that he will not be cold at night.

On Christmas day or, depending on the particular household, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to "poop". To make him "poop", one beats him with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are brought by the Three Wise Men [duh!]. It does leave candies, nuts and dried figs. When nothing is left to "poop", it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or "urinates". What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.

"Hey, kids! Who wants some candies, nuts or dried figs the log just pooped out? Make sure to share! It's Christmas! Now, let's sing the poop song!"

If you don't poop well, I'll hit you with a stick! Poop log!
Log of Christmas, don't poop herrings, which are much too salty!

I wish I could lay claim to those lyrics, but they are traditional.

Leave it to the Catalan people to fill Christmas with so much poop talk. After all, their folklore is filled with it. There is a popular Catalan phrase, said before eating:

menja bé, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort!

It translates to: Eat well, poop strong, and don't be afraid of death!

Truly words to live by.

Hopefully, for the holidays, I'll have my brown "PoopStrong" wristbands available through this site! Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

"Leave it to the Catalan people to fill Christmas with so much poop talk."

I think they should consider re-naming themselves from "Catalan" to "Scatalan".

Greta said...

I would put mine on the shelf in the bathroom for encouragement when I've eaten too much cheese.

His inspiration is limitless.