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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fine the shitter

This concerned citizen has come up with an ingenious solution to the caganer [shitter]* and civil disobedience problem. Check out this letter to the editor in yesterday’s La Vanguardia (my translation follows):

Multa al 'caganer'


Ante la reciente polémica sobre si el Ayuntamiento pone o no pone el caganer en su belén navideño, se me ocurre una solución que creo sería del agrado de todos. Se trata de que coloquen al personaje y a su lado la figura de un Mosso d´Esquadra que, bolígrafo y talonario en ristre, denuncie al infractor. Se alcanzarían así tres objetivos: respetar la tradición, cumplir la ordenanza municipal y potenciar a una fuerza pública de reciente reimplantación, mostrándola en uno de sus más importantes quehaceres: hacer respetar la ley.

Ya me imagino el próximo mercado de Santa Llúcia con infinidad de variantes sobre la escena, que bien podría titularse: "El caganer, el mosso i l´ordenança municipal".

Fine the "shitter"

As a result of the recent controversy about whether or not City Hall ought to display the caganer [shitter] in its Christmas nativity scene, a solution came to me that I think will please everyone. It has to do with displaying the personage [caganer] and at its side a figure of a Mosso d´Esquadra [Catalan police] that, pen and pad at the ready, fines the law-breaker. Three objectives are reached: respect of tradition, complying with municipal regulation and strengthening of a recently re-implanted public [police] force, showing it in one of its most important duties: making people respect the law.

I can already imagine the next Santa Lucia market with an infinity of variations on the [nativity] scene, that could easily be titled: "The shitter, the officer and municipal regulation".

The variations are mind boggling. There’s already a flurry of Jordi Pujol and Ronaldinho caganers, but why not add less-salient but equally pervading flavor to the mix? I think the fining officer is a brilliant solution to the superficial move to ban the traditional caganer.


* The caganer, or shitter in English, is an essential part of any Catalan nativity scene. There’s Mary and the infant Jesus, the three wise men, and in the back, behind the scene, is the caganer in mid-dump.

Not as heretical as it may seem, the caganer comes from a deep-rooted scatological tradition in Catalonia. "Yo cago …" or "I shit …" preceding any manner of phraseology, "Que te cagas …" "Like you shit …", which means, in essence, "Excellent" are just some examples.

A typical conversation:

"Tio, como fue el concierto?"
"Dude, how was the concert?"

"Que te cagas."
"Like you shit."

There is also the "caga tio", a log that children hit until it breaks and "shits" out presents. This is called "fer cagar al tio" or "making the log shit". "Tio" in this sense means "log", and not "dude" or "man" as in modern nomenclature.

Most likely, as Trevor at Kalebeul points out, it is harking back to pre-Christian soil fertility rites.

Also, Wikipedia has entries on both the caganer and the caga tio.