What do Boris, Greta and Rosalia have in common this Christmas in Spain?

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What do Boris, Greta and Rosalia have in common this Christmas in Spain?
Rosalia, Boris Johnson and Greta Thunberg are among best selling caganers this year. Photo: caganer-com

They are all among this year's best-selling caganers – a Catalan Christmas tradition showing public figures with their pants down taking a crap.


Visit any Catalan home at Christmas and you will find what appears to be an interloper hiding among the traditional figures around the crib in the nativity scene.

Joseph and Mary will be in pride of place around the manger gazing adoringly at baby Jesus. The three Kings will likely be in attendance, along with a group of shepherds and a set of traditional farmyard animals.

But look closer and you will spy a figure squatting with pants down, bare bottom raised over a little brown pile of poo – glance up at the face and chances are it's a figure you recognise.

Some families like to use the same figure year after year, often a character that has been passed down through the generations, and quite likely the traditional Catalan figure of a young peasant dressed in white sporting a red barretina and a pipe.


But there is a growing trend to purchase a new figure each year – a trend that is proving profitable for a handful of artisans who produce the figures each year.

Politicians always prove popular, so too do sporting heroes.

Cartoon characters, literary figures, film icons can all be found on the shelves of stalls selling caganers.

This year Rosalia, the Catalan singer whose  groundbreaking fusion of flamenco with urban and electronic music has converted her into a music sensation not just in Spain but internationally.

Flush from his victory in the UK general election last week, models of Boris Johnson with his pants pulled down are also proving popular, following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, who was a bestseller in 2016, the year that he was elected as president. 


Also proving popular is the newest figure to be represented: Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish teenage climate change activist may have been chosen as Time Magazine person of the year but what greater accolade is there than being immortalised as a crapping nativity figure? 

In fact, the models don't have to represent real people at all.

This year, introduced a gargoyle from the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris which suffered a devastating fire earlier this year.

“This caganer extols these lonely and silent guardians who defy human vileness, wars and bad weather,” explained its makers.

One of the best sellers last year was a figure depicting the yellow ribbon that has come to represent the political prisoners currently behind bars in Catalonia for their roles in pushing Catalonia towards independence.

Carles Puigdemont, the ousted regional president of Catalonia who fled into exile in Belgium when a warrant was issued for his arrest after he unilaterally declared independence for the region in October 2017, is proving popular again this year.

While you might think that being immortalized in clay with your bum cheeks on display is not a desired status symbol, it is considered an honour to be chosen as a caganer.

“The caganer is a well loved and respected figure in the typical Catalan Nativity scene,” one of the largest caganer producers state on their website.

“It is not making fun but quite the opposite, it is a tribute to the person and the office or activity they represent.”

Their appearance in nativity are thought to date back to the mid-18th century when they were placed behind the stable scene to symbolize fertilization, and bring luck and prosperity for the year ahead – as well as a fruitful harvest.

Catalonia's obsession with defecating at Christmas goes beyond the caganer figures.

Also look out for wooden logs with painted faces known as Tió de Nadal, a jolly Christmas log which they stick in the fireplace every Christmas Eve.

Tradition says you must order Tío Nadal to defecate while spanking him with a stick. The ever-smiling tree trunk then waits for all the kids to go to bed before crapping their presents.



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