Dec 25, 2009

Caganers - Christmas Traditions in Catalonia (Spain)

Christmas cribs around the world are adapted to local characteristics to express the idea that Jesus was born just next door. In sub-Saharan Africa all crib figures are black, in Peru they wear ponchos, in Catalonia, Spain, they wear a hat, which is called barretina. There are other local features apart from landscape and clothes that express local identity. Spain advertises to tourists "Spain is different" and Christmas traditions in Catalonia, Spain, are in fact surprising to people who hear of it the first time: the nativity scene contains a guy who defecates.

The Catalan obsession with scatology is baffling to visitors from outside of Catalonia. It's a Catalan tradition to put a caganer (literally pooper) next to the crib, a guy who poops. Usually a bit hidden, the caganer can be a shepherd or some famous football players like Messi, Henry, a members of the Spanish royal family, or anybody who achieved some fame during the year.

Aquesta nit cagaràImage by SantiMB via Flickr
 caga tió
There is another Catalan tradition which is the caga tió, literally the "poop trunk." In Catalonia it is this log that poops out the presents.

Catalans find a tree trunk in the woods (it's also sold), the Christmas Log (Tió de Nadal). This trunk gets a face painted on and is wrapped in a blanket.

During the days before Christmas the tree is fed and looked after with care. Then the 24th, 25th, or 26th of December, after singing or praying, little children take a stick and say a rhyme, for example the following one:

Caga tió,
caga turró,
que si no, et donarem,
un cop de bastó.

This can be translated as Poop trunk, poop turron, because if you don't, we'll hit you with the stick.

After that they get the presents from below the blanket.

You might also want to read about German Christmas traditions. Happy Christmas and Bon Nadal to everyone. What do you think about Catalan Christmas traditions? Do you know about other curious traditions? Please vote this post up if you like it and leave a comment below for questions and suggestions. 


  1. Hi friend,

    Interesting article.. And i wish you Merry Christmas

  2. Nice info, it's always fascinating to know what are the Christmas tradition in other countries
    Merry Christmas

  3. This is quite the bizarre tradition, but we must remember, every location in the world has their own customs and they probably think our rituals our weird too. I really like how you have your site highlighted with words, so you can get quick dictioary definitions easily.

  4. Nice article, hopefuly your christmast bring happiness to your family.....

  5. WOw.. It's always interesting to find out about other traditions no matter how weird it may seem in our own culture. Thanks for the infos!

  6. I think that just goes to show that we all feel close to God1

  7. I wouldnt want that present though.

    very interesting article.

  8. Great Article Friends, Happy Christmas

  9. so you can get quick dictioary definitions easily.

  10. I thought its california. You must take picture from the back for the man shitting.

  11. Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information.

  12. Fantastic article. May you go on in peace.

  13. Wow thanks for sharing this with us, I had heard that some places have different ways to celebrate Christmas but the main reason here is to celebrate when Jesus was born.

  14. I was looking at the video nice horse ride =p

    Greg of Brisbane

  15. The first picture are looks so odd. the description is so interesting nice to read this amazing blog.
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  16. ha ha I've seen something about this on british tv. It was a feature about the figures being effigys of some of the famous footballers. As you mention above in the article.

    It's quite unbelievable to people who are not accustomed to their traditions but I expect it is quite normal for the Spanish.

  17. Oh nice, thanks for your

  18. So creative and cute article i  am  love to read  this. its Looks like fairly easy instruction.......
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  19. Great post, thanks for sharing. I love Barcelona and Catalonia... Such a beautiful place with rich culture.

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