First caganers store outside Catalonia opens in Madrid

Pooping nativity scene figures depict everyone from typical Catalan peasants to footballers and pop stars

The Alòs brothers and Ibáñez brothers at the new caganer store in Madrid, June 1, 2022, (ACN)
The Alòs brothers and Ibáñez brothers at the new caganer store in Madrid, June 1, 2022, (ACN) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

June 1, 2022 05:29 PM

Caganers, those pooping figurines that no Catalan nativity scene is complete without, are taking over the world, or Madrid at least.

The Girona-based company officially inaugurated its first store in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, located in the city center, on Calle Mayor.

It is the fifth store that has opened in the last year – three in Barcelona and one in Girona – and its first ever outside Catalonia.

The Madrid store is a joint project between the Alòs brothers, owners of the firm, and another pair of brothers, Pablo and Juan Ibáñez, popular television personalities in Spain.

As well as displaying the 550 caganers that make up the collection, the new premises in Madrid also aims to inform and educate visitors on the noble Catalan tradition of the Christmas crapper.

Zelenskyy and Messi

The original caganer depicts a Catalan peasant complete with barretina, a traditional farmer's hat.

Nowadays, you can buy a souvenir of your footballer, pop star or politician answering the call of nature, including, most recently, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

While Wednesday marked the official opening, the Madrid store has been trading for a short while already and the most popular caganer is perhaps and unexpected one, Juan Ibáñez explained.

"The best-selling caganer is that of Leo Messi, with both the Barça and PSG shirt; although he was a rival of the Real Madrid fans, he is very much appreciated here."

Messi is in fact one of the company's top sellers of all time, alongside Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Carles Puigdemont, as well as the classic, traditional caganer.

Why caganers?

Caganers, which literally means poopers, have been around since at least the 18th century. It's customary for them to be placed in the nativity scene. Yes, in the stable along with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and wise men, and the donkey.

"It’s not a provocation, it’s normal in Catalonia to have the caganer in the nativity scene," Dani Cortijo, a historian who specializes in Barcelona and Catalonia, told Catalan News in 2019.

However, "from the perspective of people not from Catalonia, you can see that it’s not normal," he adds.

"You can be very religious in Catalonia but if you don’t put the caganer in the nativity scene, you cannot have good luck for the next year," warns the historian.

"It starts maybe as a joke, but it's also a symbol of fertilization," Cortijo explains. Healthy excrement added to the soil leads to healthier crops growing thereafter. It's an idea that comes from pagan times, Cortijo says, from the days when the land was much more closely linked with the daily lives of everyone.