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Before you get to enjoy all the nice pictures we've taken, here's a taste of Catalunya culture ...

EL CAGANER ... While we were thinking of going to Catalonia at Xmas, we bought a travel guide which mentioned a strange Xmas custom concerning the creche. We searched for that little creature and here it is:

El Caganer, literally the "crapper", is a little clay figurine representing a shepherd taking a dump. While there are many explanations for the presence of this somewhat disarming figure in the otherwise solemn assembly of the Holy Navity, his origin is lost in the mists of time. The story most often told is that he represents the refertilisation of the ground in the winter, in the hope of fertility in the spring. Thus, he symbolizes fertility in general and hence good luck. Therefore when you buy this figure, as we did, you will be told that it's good luck. In our research, we learned that it is traditional to place him in the creche; we didn't believe it. However, when we had an opportunity to look at our first creche in Catalonia, in the cathedral in the center of town in Figueres, we couldn't find him at first. But, looking a little off the main scene, crouching behind a tree with his trousers down, there we saw the Caganer doing his job! Simply amazing!
Side shot and back shot of our very own Caganer!

What we have here is the most traditional kind of Caganer: a shepherd with a red cap and a pipe and a turd! But, in Catalonia, the Caganer is an art form: devils, nuns, tennis players, policemen, Roman centurions, Dali and Gala holding hands, Moses with the 10 commandments - all are shown in their most human vulnerability. Except it's not sacreligious because we didn't see the Holy Family as Caganers, although the 3 kings are. For more examples, check the following links:
click here to get to
click here - this is the funniest one. Once on the site, click on "caganers" and check out the little animation .... be patient but it's worth it ... well ...

A creche isn't needed though, to get the luck from the Caganer. As we passed before a fancy interior decoration shop in Figueres, we were dumb-founded to see a 7-foot Santa, crouching with his red santa-suit pants around his knees, this bare arse hovering over a pie-size turd on the carpeted floor of the showroom window. Our amazement was so thorough that we had not the presence of mind to take a picture. However, if we go back to Figueres in the next week, we'll try to get it!

Coming real soon!

Hometown of the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali. It's a small town with a lot of character.

View of the old town from the Rambla looking at the toy museum (to the left)

Priest play set, complete with full mass vestments and altar furnishings
Weirdest thing we saw at the Toy Museum except for the Caganers ....

Stairs leading to an 18th century church

Art Nouveau Café overlooking the Rambla (promenade)

Renaissance-looking building on the Rambla
This kind of eclectic architecture is typical of what we've seen in Catalonia, especially in Barcelona.

Collection box for Epiphany
Epiphany, or 3 Kings Day, is a major holiday in Spain (as big as Xmas, perhaps). We've noticed these "giant" collection boxes all throughout town; some, like this one which is about 4 feet tall, are quite beautiful.

The Dali Museum
Stairs leading to the museum
Statues in the museum courtyard
Now, that's a statue!
Typical Dali-esque trompe-l'oeil! (you see the woman, the cross or Abe?)

The Church of San Pere (St Peter)
Outside view
Male gargoyle on the side of the church
Don't believe us, click here
Inside (nave and altar), the glowing spot on the left being the cradle!
Altar (with Jesus in his cradle)
Side chapel