MY POINT OF VIEW – No. 1 (by Tatiana Sisquella)
Defining the people who live in a country is complicated. In fact, for centuries we have been trying to do just that and it won't be me who now resolves a matter that has provoked so much debate, ignited such passion and sparked off so many wars amongst Catalans. However, we have to start somewhere and I think that if there is one figure that says something about the Catalan character it has to be the 'caganer'.
No, don't rush off and google the translation of this word because you won't find it! And this is the main reason that the 'caganer' remains a character so unique to our culture. It’s not 'caganero', or 'shittingman', or anything else of the kind. It's either 'caganer' or it's nothing.
What other culture presents itself with its trousers down? What other country is so unashamed that it defecates in front of anyone who cares to see? Who else would not even take their hat off before performing such a serious matter as having a shit?
Us. The Catalans.
Four snippets of information in case you want to tell them about it when you get back home.
1. The 'caganer' is a peasant having a shit; he is normally dressed in traditional Catalan costume with a 'barretina' (Catalan hat) protecting his head and he is smoking a pipe.
2. The defecation signifies many things, but I'm sticking to the most traditional version. It symbolizes the desire for prosperity in the new year: the faeces fertilize the land, where the fruit will grow that will later feed us, blah, blah, blah…
3. The 'caganer' is a figure that the youngest members of the household hide in some part of the Christmas crib. But the humour lies, precisely in not completely hiding it. A kind of “not to be seen, but if it is seen, all the better”.
4. We Catalans are quite fond of scatology. We must be, if not, why would we have more than 20 words to express the verb “to shit” ?
Throughout the year we Catalans go about 'shitting' on things, as do most cultures in fact, but when Christmas approaches, we get all dressed up to receive the 'caganer'.
Who will be this year's 'caganer' ? Makers of figurines all over the countryselect the most important personalities of the year, pull their trousers down and put them in a shitting position. They, and they alone, are the 'caganers' of the year.
As the saying goes “no one gets out of shitting”, and if you pay attention, while you are walking around the decorated streets of Barcelona, especially surrounding the Cathedral, you are very likely to see the King of Spain, Leo Messi or the President of Catalonia taking a dump. However, you may also see George Bush, Nicolás Sarkozy or Pope Benedict XVI.
Now I could talk about the sugar 'poohs' that children eat at this time of year or the passions aroused by nuns' farts amongst the older “grown ups”, but I won't do that…let's take it all in doses.
A QUESTION Why did you choose Barcelona?
AN ANSWER Because they turn the paving stones into chocolate.