Barcelona: Finding the canager / Shit log

026 Shit log

Before visiting Barcelona at Christmas time, I had no idea of their crazy traditions for the season. Having come from Seville and Granada, I was aware of Spain’s love of the nativity. They don’t just represent the stable in which Jesus was both – they model the entirety of Bethlehem! You can get models of every shepherd, sheep and electrician in the town. There’s no end to the personalities available at the Christmas markets set up around the towns.

One of the great additions to the Barcelona nativity is the canager. The canager is generally a peasant in a red hat, who can be spotted (with some searching) with his trousers around his ankles taking a dump somewhere in Bethlehem at the time Christ is born.

Think on that for a moment.

There are a wide variety of reasons for the canager’s presence. One I liked was that he represented those who were not ready; as Christ was to come at any moment. And what a way to be unprepared. The canager is generally hidden to create a game for the kids in finding him each year. They take him pretty seriously, too (as much one could). A recent omission of the canager from the town hall’s nativity was met with outrage from the local community. For real.

Keeping with the theme of the rear end, the other tradition of Barcelona’s Christmas is the (pardon me) Shit Log. I’ll introduce said tradition with this:

Shit log,
Shit nougats,
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,
If you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
Shit log!

That there is one variation of the rhyme chanted by children as they hit the Shit Log with a stick on Christmas Eve. It’s literally a log (common in recent times to possess a creepily smiling face) that is half wrapped in a blanket and seated in the fire place. Come Christmas Eve, the kiddies indeed beat the log with a stick and demand goodies, which do in fact fall from the log’s symbolic pooper.

The logs are a big item at the Christmas markets around Barcelona; but perhaps my favourite part of the whole tradition is the giant Shit Log, set on a stage in front of the Cathedral, which – just as children visit Santa’s knee at home – attracts great lines of youngsters ready to arm themselves with sticks and beat a treat, conveniently passed to them from the log by the “shitty” helper who’s nestled under the rear rug.

If you don’t we will give you a good beating with a stick

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