Where to begin?
Let’s just start with Christmas in Spain, okay? As many of you know first-hand, Christmas can be a hard time for ex-pats. Even with your new friends or fantastic in-laws, being away from your own family can sting in such a family-oriented time of year.
Me? I love it. It’s not that I don’t love my family, its just that Christmas in Madrid is so much fun. There’s Christmas lights, Christmas markets, massive nativity scenes (Belenes), and of course, the Christmas shitter, commonly known as “el caganer”.
What the …? Yeah, I’m getting there…
Well, let me explain that nativity scenes are a very big deal here. While hospitals and churches always have one on display, its the town halls that spend weeks putting up large, intricate versions that are seen by thousands of Madrileños and tourists.
It’s very common to wait in long lines to see these elaborate setups:
All of the belenes that you see have the traditional religious figures. You can buy these figures in the Plaza Mayor Christmas market or there are plenty of stores that sell them year-round.
May I present to you El Caganer - the black sheep of the nativity family, sneaking in to shit somewhere in the midst of wise men, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the farm animals that you can imagine. I imagine you are saying, “why?”
Well , there actually is a long history behind the shitter, which begins in Catalonia and ends with someone smacking the shitter with a stick so that gifts “fall” out of the shitter. (I’m so sorry for saying shitter so much, but its in the name of quality journalism, okay?)
In short, “the caganer fertilizes the earth for a more fruitful year, or represents the equality of all mankind, or unites us in our most basic needs, or just throws a fart joke into a somewhat overwhelmingly holy display for your windowsill.”
So, there you have it – a little Spanish tradition to start off your holiday season. And you know what? Even if you’re not in Spain, why not take the shitter tradition and bring a little bit of Spain into your home with this lovely caganer…
And yes, it says, “Yes, we can” at the base.
I love this country…