The Caganer figure: the rudest figure in a nativity scene
It’s still quite common to set up a nativity scene in Catalan homes. We place the standard figures: baby Jesus in a manger, virgin Mary and Joseph standing next to him, shepherds gathered all together… However, a crucial one (and also my favourite one) is the caganer figure (which literally means… the pooing man!).
As you can see, the caganer figure is right in his act of defecation (he must have quite strong legs since he is always in this position). He’s wearing traditional Catalan clothes:
- la barretina (the red hat)
- white t-shirt
- la faixa vermella (the red strip)
- black trousers
- les espardenyes (espadrilles)
Notice that the caganer is always hiding in our nativity scenes. We would never put him next to Jesus (that would be slightly rude). So it’s always a fun game to try to spot him anytime you see a Catalan nativity scene.
Some theories estimate that the caganer might have been in Catalan nativity scenes (pessebres) since the 19th C. A plausible explanation is the caganer was a introduced during the realism movement, which was a cultural and artistic time and its aim was to depict and dignify common aspects of our lives (if that was the intention, they really nailed it).
In our Christmas markets there are modern versions of caganers with faces of famous people like the Pope, our politicians or darth vader amogst others.
Click here to visit the caganer official association, you won’t be disappointed!