Fabiola Sofía Masegosa Gayo born in Alicante on April 9, 1968. She is a professor and a professional translator: she has a degree in Spanish UNED and PhD in Catalan Philology (University of Lleida). Also, she is the author of the thesis “The theater life in Andorra from 1900 to 1970” (2017). In 2018, she won a prize of Andorra for her historical research on theatrical life in Andorra. In 2019 she wrote a book “En Terres d’Andorra. Una obra de teatre de Jacint Martisella Pobla, 1934”. Fabiola told us about a Christmas tradition, she has adopted from what is now her country, Andorra:
“It’s the caganer which I started putting in my nativity scene after I had been here for about three years.
The caganer, although like many other traditions has spread to more places outside Catalonia, is a typical figure of the Catalan Christmas. According to this tradition, in the nativity scene, we should find a figure of a man, usually, a shepherd in a hat, depicted crouching down in hiding, relieving his physiological needs in the open air (the name “El Caganer” literally translates to “the crapper” or “the shitter”).
It is customary to say that not putting his figure in the nativity scene brings misfortune, as his droppings fertilize the earth and bring good luck and joy for the coming year.
The origin of this figure is very uncertain, there is no unanimity among historians as to its origin. According to the Catalan folklorist and ethnologist Joan Amades, the caganer dates back to the end of the 18th century and is inspired by a 17th-century marble relief, named after the Virgin and the mountain of Montserrat, representing the Mother of God with the Child and the Montserrat massif with its paths crossed by various characters, among which, hidden behind a corner of a path under a tree appears a caganer.
Other experts point to the 14th century, saying that it originated in Ille-sur-Têt, located in the French Roussillon, where a personage known as the ‘cagaire’ was sculpted on a stone and quickly became popular in Catalan folklore and culture.
A third hypothesis goes back to the 17th century and appears to coincide with an artistic-cultural movement, reflected through drawings on tiles of episodes of the daily life of Catalans. Apparently one of these tiles depicted a defecating farmer.
But despite the scatological nature of the figure, according to tradition and culture, the caganer returns to the land what comes from it, fertilizing the earth for the following year. That is why it is considered a symbol of health, prosperity and happiness for Christmas.
Traditionally, the caganer was depicted with a sash and a hat, with a pipe in his mouth, but over time the figure has evolved and nowadays all kinds of caganers can be found: politicians, actors, musicians or football players, as well as representations of different professions or animated characters.
I, personally, opt for the traditional one in my nativity scene, ignoring the more modern ones, as I do in almost all my customs!”