The Jewels of Catalan Christmas

Christmas is in all the latitudes, a unique and repeatable celebration.

Every city with Christian background gets ready for Christmas very differently.  It exist hugely disparate rites, songs and melodies, gifts and ornaments among all the countries.

In this regard, Catalonia has its own two unique and repeatable Christmas elements: the Caganer and the Tió de Nadal (Christmas Tió).

Setting up a Christmas crib, staging the Nativity scene is a deeply rooted practice in Catalan Christmas traditions. So much so, that Catalan people even count with their own character: the Caganer.

caga tio barcelona 2014

The name “El Caganer” literally means “the crapper” or “the shitter”. Traditionally, the figurine is depicted as a peasant, wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (the “barretina”) and with his trousers down, showing a bare backside, and defecating.

The inclusion in cribs of such an uninhibited character has been often justified as a humanizing element of the Christmas fable. At the same time, it has been considered as an image of prosperity and as a metaphor of the fertilizer of the land and rich abundance of the harvest.

From his origins back to XVII and XVIII centuries to the present time, this spontaneous character has undergone some upgrades since it comes from the Baroque and its exaggerated realism.  Nevertheless, the Caganer has gained so much popularity nowadays that it is very common to find high political and religious offices, artists and sportspeople immortalized in such an unseemly position decorating the Catalan homes and their nativity scenes in Christmas time.

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