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Parliament members, Barça players, Tintin and Elvis Presley among new ‘caganers’ this Christmas

The ‘caganer’ is a figure in Catalan nativity scenes that is depicted in the act of defecation. The literal translation for ‘caganer’ means ‘shitter’. The tradition has existed in Catalonia and surrounding areas since the 17th century.

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11 November 2010 10:27 PM

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ACN / Xavier Pi / Sarah Garrahan

Torroella de Montgrí (ACN).- Parliamentary candidates, Barça players Piqué and Villa and Barça president Sandro Rosell, comic hero Tintin and Elvis Presley are among the new \u2018caganer\u2019 figures this year. Dating back to the 17th century, \u2018caganers\u2019, meaning \u2018shitters\u2019, are small figurines that are tucked away behind traditional nativity scenes during the Christmas season. While their origin is unknown, the strange defecating figures have been an important part of Catalan tradition for centuries. The original caganer was a Catalan peasant in traditional attire, wearing a \u2018barretina\u2019 (red stocking hat). Throughout the years, the caganer has been adapted to include any and all figures, from international politicians to characters such as Santa Claus.


The Alós-Pla Family from the Catalan town of Torroella de Montgrí (in the Costa Brava) makes the figures by hand. They are releasing 41 new figures onto the market this year. The figures include sports figures, politicians, cartoon characters, etc. Each year, they produce 15,000 caganers, which they sell all over the world.

In 1992, the family business created the website \u2018caganer.com\u2019 dedicated to the traditional Catalan figures. From their factory in Torroella de Montgrí, the family has been creating caganers of politicians, celebrities and sports figures, among others. Marc Alós, designer of the figurines, says that while current events are the primary influence for his designs, \u201Crequests from my kids and our customers\u201D are also important.

Alós stated that his intention is not to offend anyone, but rather pay homage to them. \u201CIn general, people do not complain or get mad; on the contrary, the people who we make caganers of usually take it really well\u201D, he said. Over 15,000 caganers are produced yearly at the factory. For 2010, \u2018caganer.com\u2019 has released 41 new characters, including the Catalan parliamentary candidates for the 28th of November election.

Sports figures and cartoon characters

The world of sports is an important theme for the Alós-Pla Family. For 2010, they have released a caganer of the new president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell as well as Barça players Leo Messi and Pedro. Some players are represented with two different caganers, one wearing a Barça uniform and the other in the Spanish national uniform, such as Sergio Busquets, David Villa and Gerard Piqué. Andrés Iniesta and Carles Puyol have also been added to the caganer catalogue. Caganers of Real Madrid\u2019s manager José Mourinho and Atlético Madrid player Diego Forlán can also be purchased this year.

Cartoon characters and celebrities are another important theme for the figurines. The family has created caganers of SpongeBob SquarePants, Tintin, Spiderman and Darth Vader. Famous musicians such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and John Lennon as well as international figures such as the Dalai Lama and Prince Charles have been introduced into the family\u2019s extensive collection of caganers.

In addition to individual characters, the company also makes thematic collections such as angels and demons, health professionals and bullfighting (with the bullfighter and the bull). The family has also created a special astronaut caganer for 2010. \u201CWe have a friend who collects caganers and works for the European Space Agency. He told us that one of our caganers went to space\u2026so we decided to pay homage to all astronauts\u201D, said Alós. The family has also released a Hebrew caganer and one of a Catalan farmer with a porron (traditional glass wine pitcher), in which they only produced 200 figures.

Caganers around the world

The new caganers can be purchased for 5 to 25 euros at their store, in Christmas markets and on the Internet. The family\u2019s Internet domain \u2018caganer.com\u2019 has been essential for the international market. People from France, Italy, England, Germany, the United States, Japan and China are buying caganers from the site. \u201CWhere the Internet can go, so can the caganer\u201D, affirmed Marc Alós.

Handmade creations

The caganer production process is completely handmade. Each piece is formed with clay and painted by hand. \u201CWe are just a few people and it takes a long time; we will begin production for next year this December\u201D, says Alós. \u2018Caganer.com\u2019 includes over 200 diverse designs by the Alós Pla Family.

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  • Caganers replicas of an astronaut, Tintin, and Sponge Bob (by X. Pi)

  • Candidates to the next Catalan elections as caganers (by X. Pi)

  • Caganers replicas of an astronaut, Tintin, and Sponge Bob (by X. Pi)
  • Candidates to the next Catalan elections as caganers (by X. Pi)
Parliament members, Barça players, Tintin and Elvis Presley among new ‘caganers’ this Christmas