The Great Chrismas Defecator

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 21, 2006 11:34 AM

Hey, it's not my fault life keeps imitating South Park.

This is for real, from Spain:

Yet statuettes of "El Caganer," or the great defecator in the Catalan language, can be found in nativity scenes, and increasingly on the mantelpieces of collectors, throughout Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, where for centuries symbols of defecation have played an important role in Christmas festivities.

During the holiday season, pastry shops around Catalonia sell sweets shaped like feces, and on Christmas Eve Catalan children beat a hollow log, called the tio, packed with holiday gifts, singing a song that urges it to defecate presents out the other end.

I'm sure my parents are thanking their lucky stars my little brothers never learned of this song when they were younger. I'm sure it would have made quite the hit at extended family gatherings.

These traditions, in the case of the caganer dating back as far as the 17th century, come from an agricultural society where defecation was associated with fertility and health.