Fun Spanish Christmas fact for you: in Catalonia (Northeastern Spain) nativity scenes typically include a figurine with pants pulled down, pooping in the stable.  I stumbled across this gem of information while perusing the goods of a rest stop off highway 68 when the company was en route to Zaragoza, Spain. 


The rest stop restaurant was decorated with large wine barrels on their sides that were hallowed out with scenes depicted inside.  One barrel held the nativity scene with Christmas lights.  When my friend Thomas asked an employee to switch on the lights, he began digging around the wires inside the barrel drawing our attention to a small figurine placed somewhat out of sight from the average viewer.  The figurine was in a squat with his white tushie a shining. 


I thought maybe it was a mistake or a joke played on a boss by a disgruntled employee, but Aaron (our local host) tried to explain (through fits of giggles) that this man was called a caganer, or pooping man.  This figure is a staple in Spanish nativity scenes for comedic relief.  Apparently it dates back to the Baroque period when an Iberian votive offering was found portraying a warrior pooping on his sword.  The tradition is to have the children (of course, kids love potty humor) find the caganer in the scene amongst Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men and the stable animals.


On Wikipedia I read about possible explanations of the caganer’s presence.  One said the caganer acts as a humorous allusion to the Spanish proverb “Dung is no saint, but where it falls it works miracles.”  But my favorite explanation is that he represents equality of all people.  Everybody poops after all!