Thursday, December 06, 2018
'Tis the Season
Dear Mr. Gilleland,
Today I'm writing this e-mail to share with you some pictures of the Mercat de Santa Llúcia here in Barcelona, Spain. It is an annual tradition to sell figures and other Christmas objects in Catalonia these days, and of course there is always a place for our caganers. I attach some pictures of a market stand entirely devoted to our glorious little man. On the last picture you can observe a Quixote inspired caganer!
Here's a close-up view of the Quixote inspired caganer:
The origins of caganers are obscure, but it seems to me that Don Quixote's squire Sancho Panza has a good claim to be regarded a proto-caganer, on the basis of Cervantes, Don Quixote 1.21 (tr. John Ormsby):
Just then, whether it was the cold of the morning that was now approaching, or that he had eaten something laxative at supper, or that it was only natural (as is most likely), Sancho felt a desire to do what no one could do for him; but so great was the fear that had penetrated his heart, he dared not separate himself from his master by as much as the black of his nail; to escape doing what he wanted was, however, also impossible; so what he did for peace's sake was to remove his right hand, which held the back of the saddle, and with it to untie gently and silently the running string which alone held up his breeches, so that on loosening it they at once fell down round his feet like fetters; he then raised his shirt as well as he could and bared his hind quarters, no slim ones. But, this accomplished, which he fancied was all he had to do to get out of this terrible strait and embarrassment, another still greater difficulty presented itself, for it seemed to him impossible to relieve himself without making some noise, and he ground his teeth and squeezed his shoulders together, holding his breath as much as he could; but in spite of his precautions he was unlucky enough after all to make a little noise, very different from that which was causing him so much fear.
Don Quixote, hearing it, said, "What noise is that, Sancho?"
"I don't know, senor," said he; "it must be something new, for adventures and misadventures never begin with a trifle." Once more he tried his luck, and succeeded so well, that without any further noise or disturbance he found himself relieved of the burden that had given him so much discomfort. But as Don Quixote's sense of smell was as acute as his hearing, and as Sancho was so closely linked with him that the fumes rose almost in a straight line, it could not be but that some should reach his nose, and as soon as they did he came to its relief by compressing it between his fingers, saying in a rather snuffing tone, "Sancho, it strikes me thou art in great fear."
"I am," answered Sancho; "but how does your worship perceive it now more than ever?"
"Because just now thou smellest stronger than ever, and not of ambergris," answered Don Quixote.
"Very likely," said Sancho, "but that's not my fault, but your worship's, for leading me about at unseasonable hours and at such unwonted paces."
"Then go back three or four, my friend," said Don Quixote, all the time with his fingers to his nose; "and for the future pay more attention to thy person and to what thou owest to mine; for it is my great familiarity with thee that has bred this contempt."
"I'll bet," replied Sancho, "that your worship thinks I have done something I ought not with my person."
"It makes it worse to stir it, friend Sancho," returned Don Quixote.
Also, I wonder if the following Bible verse could be a prophecy about caganers — Joel 2.20 (New International Version):
And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.
Labels: noctes scatologicae