This traditional figure has as many noses as there are days left to the year, and if you find him, he must grant you a wish. Of course finding him is no easy task. The nose-man, in Catalonian L’home dels nassos, only comes out on December 31st. On New Year’s Eve there is only one day left in the year, so he appears with only one nose. In recent years Barcelona’s city council has sponsored events where the nose-man makes appearances in the city, handing out “wishes” to politicians and small children.
The Noseman (L’home dels Nassos)
The Man with as many Noses as Days in the Year.
Many years ago, long before you were born, and even before the birth of your great-great-great-great grandmother, was born a very unusual boy, called Anton . He was born to a nice poor family in a place called Barcelona, in a land called Catalunya. In those days child-birth was difficult, and many children didn’t survive their first few days of life but Anton’s mother, Roser, was very hopeful that since Anton was born on the last day of the old year, that he would live to see the next.
And so it was, that Anton lived to see the next day. But the child that had been so handsome the day before was suddenly strange and new. He was covered in noses!
Déu meu, my God, thought Roser, and she thought it so loudly that it escaped with a shriek from her shocked lips. Her husband Oscar came running at the sound of her distress. What could have happened to upset her? Was the child sick?
“Déu meu….”my god, repeated Roser, “…my child, my poor baby, whatever is wrong with you?” Oscar, now at her side, carefully examined the child.
“How odd….yesterday he was fine and today, other than the fact he appears to have grown a generous supply of noses overnight, he seems completely healthy. He has 1…2…..365 noses! Perhaps the extra noses will go away with time?”questioned Oscar dubiously
“But whatever will we do in the meantime?” questioned Roser. “What will people say?” she asked, worrying more about what people might do. In those days there was little tolerance for those who were different or special.
“We will just have to wait and see, and hide the child until we are sure he is safe in public.” And with that said, Oscar hugged his wife, and wiped away her tears.
During the first year of Anton’s life, his parents were encouraged by his progress. He was a smart boy, and grew quickly. Each day, one of his many noses disappeared, and this too was encouraging to his parents. For while they loved him exactly as he was, they also knew that with so many noses he could never be safe in the public eye.
Finally, Anton’s birthday, New Year’s Eve Day arrived, and that morning the one year old awoke with just one perfect, straight and beautiful nose between his big blue eyes.
“ Momma! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Happy!” yelled the boy, running into his mother’s open arms. “No cry, Momma! Happy happy!”
“Don’t worry my dear Anton, Momma’s just happy, that’s all.”
“ No cry! Happy!” screeched the toddler again. Roser laughed and cuddled the boy closer.
“Oscar, come, and let’s take Anton into town for his birthday! Maybe he’d like to pick out a birthday sweet!” For the first time ever, Anton was allowed to leave his parent’s small house and see the world and its people, or at least the wonders of the town and its townspeople. So it was that Anton’s special talent was discovered. After being passed from one set of welcoming arms to another, the baker, the butcher, the tailor and all the townspeople, Anton was delivered into the clutches of Barcelona’s oldest widow and as she held him, she wished aloud to be young enough to have a husband and children again. Suddenly she was young again.
It can’t bethought Oscar…the child grants wishes? You see, you must understand, that in those days more people believed in, or at least feared magic,. But even so, to Oscar, the thought that his child, apart from his unusual ability to grow and shed noses, could also make the spoken desires of people reality, was too much. It can’t be he thought again but even so, just in case…
“Anton come here, please!” And the little boy went running to his father, who swiftly scooped him up in arms and turned away from the astonished townspeople and whispered, “What did you do to the widow?” The tiny boy giggled at his father, shook his head and squirmed in Oscar’s arms. Hmmmm…Oscar decided to make a wish, “Make me a rich man.” Poof! Oscar was suddenly well-dressed and holding the key to one of the nicest houses in all of Barcelona. He looked down at Anton and saw he was wearing much nicer clothes as well, and saw Roser across the square, and noticed that her clothes had changed as well. She had on a new dress, red velvet with pink trim. But Roser was about to cry. Her trembling hands, frozen face and desperate eyes had Oscar rushing to her side. What could be wrong with Roser? So the boy could grant wishes…they would be rich! and happy. All that was necessary was for them to wish it!
“Oh Oscar, we must get home with Anton at once!” Roser’s head was full of worried thoughts. Would her son, finally free of excess noses, be taken away from her because of his surprising and useful ability to grant wishes. What would happen to him if someone other than the townspeople, someone bad, found out about his special talent? What would happen to her little son? How would she ever protect him? “Oscar, oh Oscar, how will we keep Anton safe?”
Oscar was a simple man, but even so, he was sometimes blessed with great ideas and here was one: “We will confess everything we know to the townspeople,” he said. “We will tell them about our special child and swear them to secrecy. That way Anton can go to school and town and live like other children without being trapped in the house.”
“Oh Oscar….are you sure?”
“Of course. Our townspeople are trustworthy. I would trust each and every one of them with Anton’s safety. If we explain everything, I’m sure they’ll understand and help us to protect him as well. Tomorrow we will go back into town and tell them the whole story. Now we must welcome the New Year and rest.” Oscar and Roser tucked Anton into his crib and themselves into bed.
“Deu meu! My God….my child..” murmured Roser. Oscar heard her, and quietly snuck up to stand by her side and look into Anton’s crib. The sleeping child was once again covered in noses. Roser and Oscar had finally learned the truth about Anton. He would have as many noses as there were days left to the year and would grant the wishes of anyone who caught him in their arms on the last day of the year.
As the years passed, Anton grew and changed like other children and was always safe in Barcelona among his family and the townspeople, although the city was ever growing. Somehow, it never occurred to anyone to wish away his growing noses for him, not even to Anton himself. Besides, he could only grant the wish of his capturer.
On Anton’s 18th Birthday he met a beautiful girl named Carme, dressed in red. Carme wanted to kiss him. Anton, normally a very happy fellow, was suddenly sad and shook his head “Tomorrow you’ll see you don’t want to kiss me,” and explained about his noses and the wishes.
“Silly boy!” trilled Carme, taking him in her arms and kissing him on the cheek. “I wish you to be free of your extra noses, if that will make you happy!” and so it was that Anton become simply Anton, husband to Carmen, son to Roser and Oscar, and the man who had as many noses as days are left in the year became nothing more than a legend in that small part of the world that became a bustling and famous city.
To this day, the story of the noseman is told in Barcelona to children on December 31st. Take a look in the mirror. Who knows, you might see him.