Barcelona is one of my favourite cities for the simple reasons that it is so walkable and things are on a human scale. You won’t see massive architecture – well, except for the La Sagrada Familia. The city is multilayered – you see great architecture from different periods. And the food is not expensive and very accessible.
I had the most significant December 8th last year. It may have been coincidental that we were at the Our Lady of Montserrat Monastery exactly on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I must have been really meant to be there.
But this story is about Christmas in Barcelona. We were lucky that when we were there, they had Christmas markets in the city. Our guide told us that the seasonal night markets only took place for a few days in December – around this time! I particularly liked the one just out side La Sagrada Familia. It had pretty clay sculpted miniatures.
The little diorama had elements of rustic life when the Catalan region was still part of the Roman empire — farming, traveling by boat and donkey, details of a Roman home. There is Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus by the waterfront. It isn’t your typical Holy Night scene.
He is what is known as a Caganer – a figure of a defacating person. This has been part of Catalan tradition for two centuries now. Nowadays, Caganers come in all forms – Sponge Bob, Queen Elizabeth, David Beckham. I had to get one for myself! In Catalan culture, kids take turns looking for the hidden caganer.
More contemporary caganer doing the poopie act. These caganers are placed in the nativity scene, usually behind the cottage where baby Jesus was born. Never in front, that would be disrespectful. Usually kids make it a game to find the caganer every day.
Cartoon caganers. I found out that all this fascination with pooping is really part of Catalan tradition. It is believed that defacation is the greatest equalizer. It is something everybody does whether rich or poor.
I’m not a fan of souvenirs. But I had to make an exception for these caganers because they tell such an interesting story of Catalan culture. And how adorable is the Sagrada Familia in clay pottery?!