Best time to visit Barcelona

El Caganer in Barcelona

An unusual Catalan tradition—a defecating man in a nativity scene

Best time: December

El Caganer
El Caganer

The figure of caganer is very popular on Christmas in Catalonia. Like other Christians, Catalonians celebrate the holiday by building a model of Bethlehem reflecting the nativity scene. Sometimes it's possible to see how in a small corner of the model one of the characters is defecating. Some say that this figure is referring to equality of all humans, others say it's just a joke.

El Caganer is usually depicted as a peasant. He is wearing the barretina, a Catalan red hat. His trousers are usually down, showing some of his back while he is defecating. This figure has been observed in Catalonia at least since the 18th century. When visiting Barcelona during Christmas time, don't forget to buy a little caganer as a souvenir for yourself.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Barcelona to see the El Caganer tradition?

If you're interested in seeing the El Caganer tradition, December is the best time to visit Barcelona. This folkloric Catalan tradition is observed during Christmas time, and small caganer figurines are sold all over the city. Popular spots to purchase caganer figurines include open-air markets at the Sagrada Familia or La Rambla street. You can also witness the tradition of building nativity scenes during December. Show more

Where can I see the nativity scene models featuring the caganer figure in Barcelona?

The presence of caganer in nativity scenes is common throughout Barcelona during the Christmas holiday season. Famous spots to visit include the Gothic Quarter, Born district, and Placa de Sant Jaume, all of which feature stalls selling caganer figurines. Each year, a unique caganer is installed in the city's central square by Antoni Baiget, an ethical handicraftsman. This is one of the biggest attractions during the winter holidays. Show more

Is the caganer figure only found in the nativity scenes during Christmas?

The caganer figure originated in the 18th century and is exclusively a part of Catalonia's Christmas tradition seen in the nativity scene. While caganer's clothes have changed over time, today, it is represented as a person performing solid waste, specifically defecating. As a symbol of equality among all humans, it upholds the universality of bodily functions. The caganer is considered to bring fertility and prosperity to the Catalan community. Show more

What does the caganer figure symbolize in Catalan tradition?

The caganer figure is a crucial symbol of Catalan's Christmas tradition representing the universality of bodily functions and the equality of all people. Historically, the Church attempted to abolish this famous character, but that didn't stop this quirky tradition. Nowadays, the Caganer is widely accepted. In fact, there are countless adaptions of the figure, depicting famous politicians, stars, and fictional characters. While still performing the same act, it provides a lighthearted character, bringing joy to many families. Show more

Can I find caganer figures depicting famous people or fictional characters?

In Catalonia's Christmas tradition, it's familiar to find Caganer figurines representing almost anyone or anything, fictional or real. Some sellers offer Caganers that resemble famous politicians, musicians, and sports stars, including Santa Claus, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Mickey Mouse. Since Caganer figures are valuable souvenirs, you can find them almost anywhere during the holiday season. You can even have custom-made Caganers with any face or outfit you want or visit the Caganer museum in Girona, featuring exhibition of about 700 Caganer figures from past and present times. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin