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Leisure and Culture

Catalonia’s most curious characters

Catalonia’s most curious characters
Written by Paula

El Caganer

While the nativity scene is something that can be found in many houses across the world, there is one little character that only be found in Catalonia, Valencia and Andorra: the Caganer. This colorful ceramic figure presents a man who is squatting, with his pants down and bare buttocks, while a small pile of feces rests right below him. The man is dressed in traditional clothes, wearing a white shirt, a black vest and a red bonnet.

barcelonaThe Caganer is said to represent prosperity, by defecating on the land, he fertilizes the fields for the coming year. It has become such a famous figure, that it can now be found year long in several stores in Barcelona. There have even been created other versions of the Caganer, depicting famous people like Barack Obama, the Queen of England, Bono from U2, Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and much more.

Tió de Nadal

There is another character that makes his appearance on December 8th, staying until Christmas Eve. The Tio de Nadal or Caga Tió is a small log with a friendly face and a red bonnet that can either be made at home or purchased. The Caga Tió (Poo Log) is covered with a blanket and fed by the children every night. When the children go to bed, parents hide Caga Tió’s food, so the kids think the log has eaten them. On Christmas Eve, the children sing a song and hit Caga Tió with sticks, enticing him to poop out presents for them. After the song they reach under the blanket and discover small presents.

L’Home dels Nassos

L’Home dels Nassos, or the Noses Man, is a Catalan character with a large nose that walks the streets of Barcelona on New Year’s Day giving candy to children. But the story behind this character is even more bizarre than the big-nosed figure that walks the streets in the beginning of the year. The original Home del’s Nassos is a mythical character with not one, but 365 noses who had only one left in the end of the year. Traditionally, the Noses Man would appear at 12 o’clock at Plaza del Palau, in Barcelona, and would cover himself with sheets, which would hide his entire body – why? Because the 365 noses were not all part of his face.

Gigantes y Cabezudos

barcelonaThe Gigantes and Cabezudos are not exclusive to Catalonia. They can be found in many countries in Europe and Latin America. These papier-mâché, wood and iron-made characters make an appearance in most of Catalonia’s major public holidays, strolling around the street to the sound of music.

The eerie-looking giants usually represent local historical figures, while the short, giant-headed cabezudos are usually a representation of popular archetypes.

Related articles: Catalan folk culture and Casa dels Entremesos

About the author


Paula is an experienced content writer, translator and editor.

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