Yes, you read that right…the crapper. Let me explain before you get the wrong impression. Let’s start out with a picture of the nativity at my family’s house this year.
All is apparaently well in Bethlehem. The manger is a go with the baby Jesus in his crib with Mary and Joseph watching him closely. The typical donkey and cow sit behind them wathcing as well. The angel flys up above anouncing the arrival of the baby Jesus. Shepherds and townfolk look on having heard the angel. The three Wise men are rolling into town on their camels bringing their gifts. Some other towns people are doing chores in their towers, you know, regular stuff…
Insert here your favorite Chirstmas carol playing softly in the background on a vinyl record, Silent Night for instance….now take the needle and scratch it loudly over the entire record (wish I could provide sound effects here, but that’s my attempt)….
What is that guy behind the tree doing?????????? Could he be? Is he? What???? Let’s have a closer look….
Yes, indeed he is relieving himself behind the tree. He is “el cagón”, or the crapper. And yes, he is in the nativity scene. It is a popular tradition in many parts of Spain to have one of these guys somewhere in your nativity scene. He is usually hiding behind a tree or under a bridge or around a corner. It’s not exactly clear what the significance is, but my explanation is that he provides a very human element to the whole scene that seems rather divine, holy and biblical. A point of levity and reality. Life goes on and you have to take care of all the normal things in life in spite of all the holiday magic and celbration going on. It always gets a laugh, year after year and the kids are always searching to see where he is hiding (which wasn’t too well this year) 😉