Happy Crappy Christmas

In Barcelona there are two very strange Christmas traditions: a man squatting, bottom exposed, in the Nativity scene and a log that poops out presents and sweets.

Jeff and I are in Barcelona celebrating our wedding anniversary, and the Christmas markets are in full swing. While wandering through them, we stumbled upon 2 really unusual traditions… and since I can’t pass up a quirky story, I have to share them with you.

First let me explain, for those of you who might not know, that Barcelona is in an area called Catalonia which has its own identity, and its own traditions which are sometimes different from the rest of Spain. Two rather bizarre ones have to do with something rarely associated with Christmas… Poo! (Yes, you read that correctly… And we’re not talking about Winnie the Pooh here either.)

Caganer, crapper Barcelona
Image by CuriousRambler.com

The Caganer

One of the first things we spotted in the Christmas market was a figurine of a man wearing the traditional red Catalan cap. But what is unusual about this fellow, is that he is squatting with his trousers down, bottom exposed, and he has left a little pile of poo beneath him. He is called the “caganer” (or the crapper).

He might have something to do with fertilizing the soil and bringing good luck, or he might just be a reminder that, in many ways, we are all the same. For whichever reason, he is almost always present in… traditional manger scenes, of all places. But, thankfully, he is hidden somewhere in the back and it’s almost a game to spot him.

In addition to the Catalan man, you can find “crappers” made in the likeness of celebrities and political figures. We saw Obama, François Hollande, Putin, and Queen Elizabeth as well as Madonna, Bart Simpson, and many others “doing their business.” It seems that no one is spared this “honor.”

Tio log christmas Barcelona
Image by CuriousRambler.com

The Caga Tió

The next item to catch our attention was the Christmas log. It has a happy painted face, it’s propped up on 2 front legs, and wears a red Catalan hat. At first we thought it was meant to be a reindeer, but instead, it turned out to be another crappy tradition.

It’s called a “caga tió.” Tió is the Catalan word for “log” and you might recognize “caga” from the “caganer” above (so yes, it’s basically a crapping log). It’s brought into the home in December, and the children take care of it as if it was a beloved pet. They give it dishes of food and water and cover it with a blanket.

But when Christmas Eve rolls around, the niceties end. Everyone gathers around the Christmas log and the children sing a special song… while beating the poor little log with sticks to encourage it to “poop out” presents. When the song and the beating are finished, the children leave the room and the parents put small packages and sweets under the log. The children return and lift the blanket to find what the Christmas log has “pooped out” for them.

With these 2 toilet-related traditions in mind, I think it might be appropriate to end this post with a popular Catalan saying: Eat well, poop much, and don’t be afraid of dying…

Crappy… I mean Happy Christmas from Barcelona!

You Might Also Like:

Follow Me – If you would like to keep up with my articles, you can receive an email every time I post (every other week or so). Just enter your email below and click the Follow the Curious Rambler button.

Happy Crappy Christmas
Pin it for later
Margo Lestz
Latest posts by Margo Lestz (see all)


  1. How bizarre! The English are supposed to be well known for their “lavatorial humour” [doesn’t amuse me!] but thankfully we don’t have any such overt customs!! I really enjoyed this post – as ever! Happy Anniversary and Happy Christmas.

    1. This is surely one of the strangest Christmas traditions that I’ve come across. It’s fun to see, but like you, I’m glad it’s not part of my cultural traditions.
      Thanks for the anniversary wishes and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

      1. Paraphrased this story for my grandson – was told off by my daughter for using the word ‘crap’ – I blamed it on the Americans!! [Although, maybe I should have said it was a spanish word??]!!

        1. Ha ha! Sorry about that, I guess the Americans will have to take the blame. But it was one of the nicer words I could think of to describe it. And Crappy rhymes with happy!

  2. Obviously, I’m doing serious catching up here on my favourite blogs. This one left me laughing and scratching my head. Bizarre! Thanks for enlightening us on Catalan Christmas traditions, crappy or not! Belated best wishes to you and Jeff for your anniversary and Christmas.

Leave a Comment