Why is THAT in the Nativity Scene?!

Caganer Nativity Scene

When you view a nativity scene, there are certain elements you expect to be present. No nativity scene can be complete without baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Animals, angels, shepherds, and wise men are common, as well. When is the last time you expected to see a pooping man also present? If you live in Catalonia (northeastern Spain and southwestern France) such a sight would not surprise you.

The pooping man is called the Caganer. His origins are somewhat murky but has been around for at least 200 years. A number of theories exist as to why the figure shows up in Nativity scenes, including:

  • he is fertilizing the earth to bring about prosperity;
  • he is a symbol of humility;
  • he is there simply for shock value.

Whatever the reason, the custom is so common that the Roman Catholic Church has grudgingly tolerated the practice of including the Caganer in Nativity scenes, even in the highly-Catholic Catalan region.

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