Belén – The Spanish Nativity

Wherever you go in Spain at this time of year you can’t fail to notice the municipal Belénes, the Spanish version of a nativity scene. They are much more than that though, and each year some towns are getting more and more creative. The scenes depict various tales from the Bible with the birth of Jesus Christ naturally being the focus, but Egypt often features heavily too. Some places even have live productions with real sheep and donkeys taking centre stage. Not this year though!

Towns like Rojales tent to erect a large canopy outside the church and the public are invited to walk around the outside admiring the various dioramas. The attention to detail is quite something.

In Torrevieja it is a grand affair. The whole square outside the church is dominated by the Belén.

In Guardamar del Segura it is a much smaller affair. A small cabin on the square by the town hall houses two Biblical scenes.

In the city of Orihuela the Belén is quite a size. Here’s an interesting walkthrough with a video camera.

In Catral they have been a little more creative. The 2020 version features Covid-19 themes but last year they had a special DANA-Belén to commemorate the devastating floods in the area!

Many people also get creative in their own homes. For some families the Belén is a collection of figures which has been put together over generations. For others a simple collection of Coca-Cola cans will do!!

Other regions of Spain have other traditions which run alongside the Belén. Catalonia, for example, have the caganer, a little figure defecating in the corner! Charming!! Read more about it here.

However you celebrate, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Obviously 2020 is going to be a little different for us all, but have a good one!

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