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Holy Crap!!!

March 4, 2011

This article has some “not nice” words in it, but they kind of need to be there.  I honestly couldn’t find a way to tell this interesting story without a few.  I edited them as best I could.

Holy Crap!!!

No seriously, don’t get mad at me for swearing.  I’m literally talking about religious excrement today.  Faithful feces.  Theistic turds.  Spiritual stool.  Pious poo.  Devout dookie.  Okay, enough, I’ve proven that I know a lot of synonyms for poop.

Seriously, I’ve heard of some unique Christmas traditions in my day.  My own family plays what we call the “dollar game” every December 25th.  Each person in the family buys a few strange things they find at the $1 store, wraps them up so know one can tell what you’ve got, and dumps them on the table after Christmas dinner.  Then we play a dice game where people try to win the prizes, taking them out of the pile, stealing them from one another, stealing them back again, usually “fighting” over one or two presents that will certainly turn out to be worthless and dumb, but the hour or so the game takes is hilarious fun.

My mom knows a lady whose family bought an ugly reindeer sweater for the oldest uncle 20 years ago.  He put in in his closet and never wore it, so his wife “stole” it back from him, wrapped it, and gave it to him as a gift again the next Christmas.  He had no idea he’d gotten the same hideous sweater two years in a row, so his son stole it and gave it to him the next Christmas.  He still didn’t notice, so the family has kept going.  Now, this has been going on for two decades, and every member of the family is in on it, but the guy still hasn’t realized that he’s getting the same horribly unattractive sweater year after year after year from his entire family.

I went to high school with this kid from Latvia whose dad dressed as a horse on Christmas Eve for some traditional festival, and I have no idea why.  I know of a couple that gives their friends and family each a rock as a holiday gift – seriously, they drive around the country all year, and at a moment when they just happen to think of you, they pull over and find a rock.  The next Christmas, that rock will be your gift.  I also know a family that perches a small stuffed puppy on top of their Christmas tree instead of an angel or star.

I suppose most Christmas traditions are kind of odd when you really think about them.  Hey everyone, let’s all cut down a tree and bring it into our home for a month or so.  Let’s let it get really, really dry and flammable and then wrap electric lights around it.  While we’re at it, let’s hang some large, long socks in front of the fireplace too – we’ll just let them dangle there in front of the flames.  Seriously, a lot of our holiday traditions seem to throw fire safety out the window.  What next?  Hey, let’s make fake snow by emptying all the fire extinguishers and pour combustible liquids on the sofa.

All this may seem ridiculous, but you haven’t seen ridiculous quite yet.  Remember the title up there?  Holy crap.  It’s about to get real up in here.

In Catalonia, a region in Eastern Spain, they have a Christmas tradition that’s gonna make you…  alright, I’m not gonna go there this time, let’s just leave it at it’s gonna make you something.

We’ve all seen nativity scenes here in America.  Most churches have one outside during the Christmas season, a lot of families have a smaller one in their home, even some towns put out a nativity during December.  The traditional nativity is kind of a giant diorama of the stable where Jesus was born.  The scene usually shows Mary and Joseph, along with baby Jesus in the manger.  Sometimes you get a donkey, some sheep, even a camel thrown in there.  Most of the nativities I’ve seen have also had some shepherds and, of course, the three wise men.

Catalonia outdoes that.  Most towns in that region will set up a nativity that depicts the entire city of Bethlehem.  They get pretty detailed, adding farmhouses, the inn that turned Mary away, citizens milling about town, sheep out in the pastures, the angel, the star, the wise men riding into town.  I kind of picture those ceramic holiday villages some people set up, where you have an entire town built with houses and stores and barber shops and a little choo choo train and all that.  Bottom line, the Catalan people go all out for their nativity scenes.

Now, the weird part.  No one knows for sure when, but at least 200 years ago, an odd tradition started.  The Catalans fill their Bethlehem models with figures or people.  Of course you have the stars of the show – Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men, but they also throw shepherds, farmers, the innkeeper, women washing clothes in the river, people working in the fields, a woman weaving, a man taking a dump, and all sorts of other people.

A traditional Catalan caganer.

Yes, you read that right.  These Catalan nativity scenes all include one figurine of a man squatting down with his pants around his ankles, right in the middle of doing his business, and most of the statues even have a little bit of statue poo right there below his bare butt.  These figures are called caganers, which translated into English means, “the defecator,” or, translated into middle school language – “dude pooping.”

Caganers are serious business too.  Little kids in this region play Where’s Waldo type games, trying to find the caganer in each nativity scene they see.  He’s never right there in the stable with Jesus, but he’ll often be found behind a building, next to a tree, out in the fields…

There are several guesses as to how this tradition started, and why it continues.  Some say the poop is symbolic of fertilizing the Earth, asking for good crops that year as a Christmas gift to the farmers.  Others claim it represents all humans in the nativity, because, like the book says, no matter your gender, race, age, or religion – everybody poops.  Another theory is that the caganers are telling us that God will come to us when he wants, it doesn’t matter if you’re ready, it might even be when you’re in the middle of s… something.

Whatever the original reason, these folks take the caganers very seriously.  Back in 2005, the city of Barcelona set up their nativity without a caganer.  As soon as people realized what had happened, there was nearly rioting.  The citizens were furious, and the government was bombarded with complaints that said the city’s decision was “an attack on Catalan traditions.”  There was such an uproar that in 2006, the caganer was back.

Traditionally the caganer is a peasant man in a red stocking cap, with his pants dropped and in mid-poo.  In recent years, the people have created a female peasant caganer, as well as celebrity caganers.  You can find just about any famous person you want – athletes, movie stars, politicians, cartoon characters, you name it, in caganer pose, doing their business to celebrate Christmas.

President Obama celebrates the holidays in Catalonia.

This is a deleted scene from Spiderman IV.

And this one is just for Mr. Doerr. Hopefully this isn't out on the golf course, Tiger.

Hold on a second though.  I haven’t gotten to the really weird sh!t yet.  And yes, I put that swear word in there on purpose too, because what I’m about to talk about is some seriously weird sh!t.

Another Catalan Christmas tradition is the Tió de Nadal.  Translate that and you get “Christmas log.”

I’m giving you a second to make a connection to all the poo talk up above and the fact that I just mentioned a Christmas log.  Yes, I sort of mean that kind of log.

I could not possibly make something up as strange and funny as what I’m about to explain to you, so realize that this is 100% truth I’m speaking.

Tió de Nadal is a character.  Like Mickey Mouse or Thomas the Tank Engine, this Christmas log has a face.  He may talk and sing songs – I don’t know for sure.  I really hope he does, because it’s all the funnier that way.  The Christmas log also has a nickname, and it’s not a cool nickname like Duke or Sparky or Chief, his nickname is Caga Tió.  Put that into your Spanish to English translator app and you’ll find out that means — sh!t log.

That’s the worst freakin’ nickname ever, and his nickname isn’t the worst part of his life.  His job is really terrible.

Awww. Isn't that sh!t log cute?

Now I already said that I think we’re kind of strange for bringing a dead tree into the house to celebrate Christmas, but the Catalan people one up us there.  Caga Tió is an actual log.  He’s about a foot long, with a face painted on the flat part, and two stick legs to prop him up.  Each night from December 8th on, the family “feeds” Caga Tió a snack and pulls a blanket over him to keep him warm.  Awww, how sweet, right?  They take in this poor homeless log, feed him, keep him warm… that’s the holiday spirit at it’s best, right?

No.

On Christmas morning, the children take Caga Tió’s blanket and place him part way in the fireplace, essentially lighting his butt on fire.  Then, they beat him with sticks and sing songs at him.  Why?  What do they want?  What are they asking poor Caga?  Wait for it…  they want him to poop.  In fact, they are hitting him, demanding that he poop out presents for them.

Here’s the lyrics to one of the songs they sing.

There are no words that I can put here that are funnier than the image. It's really a log pooping out presents 'cause kids with a stick are demanding it to. Seriously.

caga tió,

caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”

Translated, that means:

sh!t log,

sh!t cakes
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t sh!t well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
sh!t log!

And he does!!!  He craps out small cakes, nuts, figs, and candy for the kids.  Then, when he’s got no more sweets in his bowels, he plops out fish, garlic, and onions.

I used to think it was kind of strange to go to the mall and sit on a stranger’s lap and tell them what you want for Christmas.  I used to think wandering through your neighborhood singing carols at people’s doors was odd.  I used to think getting up at 3am to shop the day after Thanksgiving was a bit nutty.  I really try hard to be open to other cultures and their traditions, but these people have a real strange obsession with poop.

Although, since we’re going to Spain in June, I think I’ll do a little Catalan Christmas shopping, and I know what everyone on my list is getting for a present this year.  Celebrity caganers for all, and for all a good poop!!!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Andra permalink
    March 4, 2011 10:46 pm

    I WANT ONE OF THOSE LIL THINGS!!!!!!!

  2. maisie manthey permalink
    March 5, 2011 3:58 pm

    haha this just made my day . i’ve truly never heard something like this before XD

    • March 5, 2011 4:09 pm

      We agree Maisie, this is certainly a unique custom, and we’ve been laughing about it for almost 24 hours now.

  3. March 6, 2011 10:57 am

    … I’m speechless…..

  4. crystal permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:19 pm

    ok

  5. March 11, 2011 1:51 pm

    thats funny but also disturbing at the same time.

  6. Drew Burjek permalink
    March 13, 2011 8:34 pm

    Im going to send like 100 of those to my grandma this year!!!

  7. jenna l permalink
    April 14, 2011 8:28 am

    o gosh mr. curtis seriousley i was looking at tap pictures and a pooping spider man showed up you told me to click it and now i have to show my family because max likes sponge bob and on one episode spongebob talked about the book everyone poops.

  8. Jes Blanchard permalink
    April 15, 2011 7:35 pm

    This is hilarious I cant stop laughing! 🙂

  9. Joshua Bouie permalink
    April 25, 2011 10:31 pm

    That’s just…that’s just wrong!

  10. Skyler W. permalink
    May 8, 2011 3:33 pm

    I think I’m going to be scarred for life!!!

  11. Samantha permalink
    June 25, 2011 10:06 am

    OMGG I AGREE THAT’S JUST WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Samantha permalink
    June 25, 2011 10:08 am

    I KEEP READING IT NOW I FEEL… I FEEL SICK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. jessica permalink
    August 23, 2013 1:47 am

    Yuck……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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