Caught short

In many traditional Spanish nativity scenes there is  an extra character whom you would never see in other countries. He is known as ‘el caganer’, and is available in all sorts of guises. As you can see below, he is not the politest visitor to the manger scene!

However, that is the point. El caganer is a reminder that at Christmas time God enters our messy, earthy world where such things are part of life. Some will be shocked at the crudeness of the figure – but others will be appropriately shocked anew at God’s enormous gesture of love in entering a crude and messy world. When we sing ‘love came down at Christmas’, this is what we mean, surely – that he comes to this very ordinary place?