A Crappy Christmas Tradition: The Caganer

Traditional Caganer
Hey, it's Christmastime, so I'm just going to go ahead and introduce you to one bizarre, yet funny and less horrible than most things on this blog, holiday tradition. Perhaps we will make our own tradition out of posting this type of article around Christmas. Perhaps we will just get a chuckle out of it this year and then move on. Either way, I found the so-called caganers to be utterly hilarious and hope you do too.

Before we jump into the how, where and exactly what of this Christmas tradition, let's just translate the name for you know whats and giggles. Caganers stands for "the crapper" or a less decorous term, if you can imagine. "The Crapper" is a character in the traditional Catalan nativity scene," which involves the entirety of Bethlehem. For at least the past few hundred years, a crapping peasant can be found among these nativities. Yes, we are talking a figurine with its pants around its knees and poop behind him. No one is quite sure why or how this tradition came about, but there you have it.

Because the nativity scenes in Catalan tradition involve so much more than just the manger, caganers are not the only figures added that Westerners would not typically see. Nonetheless, this little guy remains the most controversial or funny, depending on your view of the thing. Remember, you may have to look for him if you come across a Catalan nativity, as some families like to hide "the crapper" for the kids to find.

The Roden Crater Observatory

We may have not delved into this area of things that are bizarre, but it is possible for something to be so extraordinary as to be bizarre and also be beautiful, amazing and brilliant. Such is the case with the subject of this blog post. One man is so dedicated to that which has inspired him that he has gone ahead and purchased an entire cinder cone crater in order to make his vision come true. That vision - an artistic naked eye observatory in the middle of the San Francisco Volcano Field at 5,400 feet. It is in the Roden Crater, to be precise.

The crater itself is something to behold. If you get the chance, find a shot of it from the sky. The red and black of the cinder cone are rather pretty in the context. Artist James Turrell stands at this location and wants people to have "a sense of standing on the planet" by integrating a structure at the location with the sky. If this sounds a lot like ancient structures like Stonehenge, that is because Turrell used ancient observatories and other monumental construction as inspiration for his project.

The Roden Crater naked eye observatory is not complete. Turrell, his investors and his team have put a lot of work into preparing the site. Nonetheless, there is still a lot to do and Turrell purchased the cinder cone in 1977! If time and effort are any indication of result, visiting this observatory is going to be a must-do. If you want to see visual representations and photos or donate to the project, go to http://rodencrater.com/about.