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Christmas in Catalonia, a holiday full of surprises

Catalans are known throughout the world for their strong-rooted, but strange Christmas traditions. Among them include the ‘caganer’ (crapper), the ‘caga tió’ (poop log) and the traditional ‘pessebre’ (nativity scene).


07 December 2010 09:42 PM


Sarah Garraghan / CNA

Barcelona (CNA).- Each year during Christmas time, Catalans begin preparing for the much-awaited holiday. Logs are collected, decorations are taken out of boxes and nativity scenes are assembled. The numerous Christmas markets open their doors throughout the region, offering all of important pieces to make a Catalan Christmas complete.

\u2018Pessebres\u2019 or \u2018nativity scenes\u2019 are assembled both and in homes and on the streets. \u2018Living nativity scenes\u2019 are performed throughout the Christmas holiday. But these aren\u2019t your traditional Christmas cribs. Upon a closer look, one will find an interesting little character hiding behind the manger scene.

\u2018Caganers\u2019 or \u2018crappers\u2019, essential to the Catalan nativity scene

The character, called a \u2018caganer\u2019 is essential to the Catalan nativity scene.Literally meaning \u2018crappers\u2019, \u2018caganers\u2019 are small statues that are tucked away behind nativity scenes in Catalonia. They are depicted in the act of defecating, an expression of the scatological humour of the region. While their origins are unknown, the original \u2018caganer\u2019 was a Catalan peasant in traditional attire, wearing a \u2018barretina\u2019 (red stocking hat).

Throughout the years, the \u2018caganer' has been adapted to include any and all figures, from international politicians to characters such as Santa Claus. New characters are added each year. For 2010, figures of the Dalai Lama, Prince Charles, Spongebob Squarepants and Darth Vader are among the newest \u2018caganers\u2019.

The caganer\u2019s purpose is also debated. Explanations range from tradition, to spectacle, to equality to naturalism. They can be bought in Christmas markets or online and range from 5 to 25 euros.

Caga Tió, the Christmas log that poops presents

Another Catalan Christmas tradition that many children look forward to is the \u2018caga tió\u2019 (poop log). In the days leading to Christmas, families go out in search of the log that will later become their very own \u2018caga tió\u2019. Once they find one, they paint a face on one end, place a \u2018barretina\u2019 (red stocking hat traditionally worn by Catalan peasants) on it and cover it with a warm blanket to protect it from the cold winter.

Beginning on the 8th of the December, the day of the Immaculate Conception, families begin \u201Cfeeding\u201D the log, giving it little treats every night until Christmas. On Christmas, children usually sing to the log, asking it to \u201Cpoop out presents\u201D while beating with a stick. The \u2018caga tió\u2019 then reveals an array of candies and snacks for the whole family to enjoy. Both the \u2018caganer\u2019 and the \u2018caga tió\u2019 are handmade throughout Catalonia. They can be purchased at the many Christmas markets open throughout the holiday season.



  • Caga Tió, the Christmas log that poops presents (by ACN)

  • Caga Tió, the Christmas log that poops presents (by ACN)

  • Caga Tió, the Christmas log that poops presents (by ACN)
  • Caga Tió, the Christmas log that poops presents (by ACN)