Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Tail of the Caganer

If you're looking at the picture above and thinking, "What the hell...that looks like a large man in an elf a shopping mall...uncoiling the remains of his Thanksgiving dinner", congratulations you've passed the eye exam.

As faithful readers of R17 know it's that time of year where I uncork my tales of the Caganer

Let's harken back to the 80's, well maybe not that far back, but to a time when advertising was driven by TV commercials, legacy media, and work people could actually point to. For the record, those times are gone. And you'll never find yourself at a dinner party or a holiday gathering and hear someone say, "Hey did you see that tweet from Home Depot?" or "I loved that page-takeover from Hellman's mayonnaise."

I was working on a sales event for Acura "luxury" cars and wanted to do something different that the red bow on a car trope. So I began researching odd X-mas traditions from around the world. That's when I discovered the Caganer -- The Pooper in Spanish.

In Spain and Portugal, 18th century celebrants of Christmas would often stage a Nativity scene in front of their homes. Only their Nativity scenes were different that the ones you might find in Peoria, or Boise, or Tempe. Because in addition to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and assorted Jewish servants friends and attendants, there included a small figurine, positioned just outside the manger, with his caftan around his ankles and caught in the act of "launching a lifeboat off the SS Assitania."


Indeed why? 

Organized religion has never made sense to me. In my book, God did not create man. Man created god. And yet, the reasoning for the Caganer seems more rational than myrr, frankincense and whatever else is going on here. 

You see winter solstice on the Iberian peninsula is when the farmers start getting the soil ready for the upcoming planting season. And to mark that special period of time the Caganer is symbolically fertilizing the ground with his own man-made fertilizer. Keep in mind this was in an age before almanacs, broadband and other time-keeping devices to aid poor rural Catalonian farmers.

The Caganer is performing a vital and necessary service while also maintaining a healthy digestive regimen.

This week one of my neighbors assembled a nativity scene on his front yard. I happened to be walking the dog and ran into him while he nailing Wiseman #2 to the ground.

We engaged in some small talk and I took the time to tell the Tail of the Caganer to him. Not sure he was prepared for what I was unloading on him. As I was leaving, he scratched his chin and said, "Ok, have a nice day."

Part of me wants to go online, purchase a 2 foot high Caganer and surreptitiously add it to his front yard party. 

My wife said No.

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