A Diaper Change You Can Believe In:
By James Folta
Why, exactly, are thousands of God-loving Spaniards paying almost twenty bucks for Barack Obama to relieve himself in their nativity scenes? Somewhere between tradition and transition lies perhaps the funniest Christmas story you'll learn this season.
BARCELONA -- The Christmas market outside the Cathedral in the Catalonia region here is much like any other holiday bazaar: carols, pine, more carols, wreathes, really annoying carols, and crèches. But for sale along with the wise men, Marys, Jesuses (Jesi?), and all our favorite Biblical folk is the "caganer" -- literally Catalan for "the shitter." And that's because the figurine is just that: a little ceramic guy going No. 2 on the savior's new front porch. Unholy, you say? The Catalan people I spoke to here insist the crouching crappers are an essential part of their nativity scene -- so crucial that in Barcelona, when municipal crèches have omitted caganers in the past, intense public outcries have always brought back the traditional squatter.
Asked from whence said tradition came, many Catalan shoppers shrug and say, "It's just tradition." Those who've crossed off more of their Christmas lists -- and thus have more time to expound on their people's somewhat frightening obsession with healthy bowel movements -- are somewhat more profound. The caganer fertilizes the earth for a more fruitful year, or represents the equality of all mankind, or unites us in our most basic needs, or just throws a fart joke into a somewhat overwhelmingly holy display for your windowsill. Most agree that it's just damn funny.
Local merchants, meanwhile, agree that this kind of fun-loving feculence can mean big money. The original caganers -- featuring a Catalan peasant, his red hat, and his bare ass -- have been popular in the region for some three centuries. But for each of the past several Christmases, the newfangled little shitter industry has created a new figurine made in the image of a worldwide headliner. Whether this "honor" has anything to do with real-world achievement or simply sales is also up for debate in the market, but the latest entries range from Spanish political leaders to Carla Bruni, from the Pope to, now, Barack Obama. Yes, that's the president-elect you see pictured above, popping a squat over a fairly heaping portion of Plasticine poop. And as has been reported this month, he's the biggest seller these Catalan salesmen have ever seen.
So while it speaks to the worldwide hype surrounding Obama that his constipated Christmas toy is wildly popular so far away from home, this cottage industry coup may offer a simpler message: America's first black president, burdened with the expectant hopes of a weary and broken nation, just got caught with his ass in the breeze and a piece of dung between his feet. After all, isn't that what the holidays are all about?
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Registration date : 2008-09-15
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