At dinner Thursday night, conversation somehow turned to the peculiar Christmas traditions of the Catalan region in Spain. It's time for the kith and kin to understand these things as well. Given the recent, rather low-brow commentary on razors and guns, I think the waters are sufficiently muddied for such a subject.
For those who don't know, I spent a most wonderful semester in Barcelona in the fall of 2001. It's a fabulous city--beautiful, very livable and walkable. One of the more interesting cultural phenomenon, though, is a preoccupation with the scatological. I'm not sure from whence this comes--perhaps from an orginally agricultural society, perhaps from the fact that there's really no green space in the city and the dogs just do their business on the sidewalk so that you have to always look down while you're walking, perhaps because this subject is somehow more accetable when one is speaking about it in Catalan. Whatever the case, the preocuupation becomes especially evident during the Christmas season in two ways:
Exhibit 1. The Caganer.
Exhibit 2. The Tio de Nadal.
If you don't believe the wikipedia or me, I can appeal to Mom and Dad, who joined me in BCA for Christmas, for the truth of what I have just presented.
**Update: Exhibit 3. See a selection of caganers for sale here.