In my first year in Barcelona I was elbowing my way through the bustling throng in the Christmas Fira de Santa Llucia in front of the cathedral, filled with happy families buying their festive decorations, when a little figure on one of the stands caught my eye. Actually, more like punched me in the eye. It was my first view of something which no nativity scene in Catalonia can be with without, El Caganer or the shitter. I’m sorry – but while many places substitute poo or other softer words, anybody who knows the Catalans couldn’t translate it any other way. (I know that many Catalans consider that their country should not be part of Spain but I’m writing this in praise of one of their traditions).
The Catalans are pretty scatological in general (and we’ll be featuring some more examples in the next few days) and the Caganer has gone from just the traditional version pictured here, to being collecters items as each new season reflects the political and social year that has passed – this year the must-haves seem to be French President Sarkozy, Queen Sofia and Thierry Henry. Indeed, you are no-one in Catalonia until they’ve made a shitter of you.
PS I used to buy a few Caganers every year which visitors would always beg me for, and I always ended up shitterless. Now you can buy your very own defecating festive figure at http://www.caganer.com/