Living and working on the coast makes is sometimes hard to capture elements of Spanish life that have not been eroded due to globalisation and the impact of the ex-pat economy.
Christmas is very much an Anglo-American commercial concept now, and the stores here are filled with Christmas trees and decorations just as they are in the UK and elsewhere. Yet the Nativity Scene that we sometimes see in Churches in the UK is a strong part of traditional Christmas Decorations here in Spain (as it is in many continental nations)..
The scene of the barn, with Jesus, Mary and Joseph can be scene in many Spanish homes – these are called Belenes. The attention to detail can be quiet amazing. Not only to the major supermarkets and DIY stores sell all the necessary components, from the figurines and animals and building, but there are also highly sophisticated icons available in the shops are huge prices – 100s of euros for each figure. It’s little strange for me to see stacked up against the baubles and trees, hundreds of Marys and Josephs and baby Jesus’!
Along the side the now ubiquitous Christmas Trees in the shopping centres, you can also see complex nativities – some featuring detailed models of a rustic Bethlehem, with complete with all the main characters, such as the shepherds and the three kings.
These scenes seem to date back over 1000 years! Not really a surprise since within the Catholic church icons are widely used.
Some towns and villages really get into it and even start dressing up and creating truly living scenes – Belenes Viviene’s. Today was a Belenes Viviene’s fiesta in some towns in neighbouring Cadiz.