Messi 'honoured' in saucy Spanish statues
Barcelona football star Lionel Messi, a rock n' roll legend and British royalty will be honoured this year by Spain's "caganer" figurines, a Christmas tradition that shows celebrities in unflattering poses.
The figurines have been sold in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region around Christmas since the 18th century, when they were placed in nativity scenes in the hope of bringing good luck and a rich harvest.
But now they show the famous personalities with their bottoms bared in the act of defecating.
Along with Messi, figurines of Columbian singer Shakira and her football playing boyfriend Gerard Pique will also be on sale.
Customers inclined towards rock music or royal romance can choose between Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger or Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine.
"The 'caganers' don't intend to mock the personalities or their work, but rather honour them", Marc Alos, a member of the Alos-Pla family which produces the hand-painted figurines at its factory near Barcelona, said Tuesday.
The 2011 list of caganers also features options for Spanish domestic consumers, including socialist politician Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, who will face off in a November 20 election.
Alos said caganers are sold world-wide each year and orders have already come in from New Zealand, Japan and the US.
The original caganer, which literally translated from Catalan means "the fertilizer", was a man wearing a red and black hat and peasant costume shown performing his biological functions.
It was believed that his fertile deposits in the soil of the nativity scene would bring a rich harvest.
But over time, the peasant has been replaced with well-known society figures and personalities from the region, Spain and around the world, in a reminder that all people are equal when it comes to biological functions.
© 2011 AFP