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Kings, Camels and Shitting Men

Christmas may be over by 26 December for many of us but in some countries, especially in Southern Europe, children are still eagerly awaiting the delivery of their Christmas presents.

In Barcelona, the toy markets are still going strong, the decorations and crib scenes are still on display and the children are still doing their best to behave;  for those who haven’t behaved well, there are booby presents – little potties of poo, or a lump of black coal.  Edible, but all the same…

There is no denying the scatological interests of the Catalans.  I wrote about the cute little Tió de Nadal a couple of weeks ago; cute but, still, it defecates  presents when hit with a stick.

Less cute, but ever-present, are the caganers – “shitting men”.  Every crib scene worth its salt will feature a caganer – look closely, he’ll be hiding there somewhere.

Caganer stalls abound at the many Christmas markets.  And they don’t just come as a plain old caganer – you can get them in all shapes, sizes and disguises.  Think of any famous politician, sports person or tv celebrity and you’ll find him or her in squatting pose.

The Christmas period finally comes to an end with the arrival of the Three Kings on 5th January.  As I write, the Kings’ toy factory is already in full production and is open to the public.

The Cavalcada dels Reis in Barcelona is a fun event, with brightly decorated floats and even live camels (how else would the Kings arrive?).  This is the last chance for children to hand in their Christmas wish lists, with Kings’ helpers on hand to collect the letters and to dole out sweets.  On the evening of the 5th, eager and hopeful children will put out a shoe, hoping to have it filled with presents galore (and not too much coal or poo!)


You can see a previous post on the Three Kings Parade here.

17 replies »

  1. What a curious tradition. Is it only men placed in this position? I always thought the Catalan were strange!


  2. Awesome. I love the idea of the shitting men. People do have needs, also during festive holidays! If I’m ever in Barcelona around this time of year, I’ll make sure to bring a shitting man home.


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