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Traditional festivals

Living Nativity Scenes in Barcelona

Written by Laura

Although it seems as if more and more classical traditions are lost every year, in reality they are frequently kept around for the nostalgic and enchanting feeling that they bring, especially as many of them bring back memories of childhood. Christmas as of late has also been losing some its more traditional aspects and become more materialistic and consumeristic, in addition to adopting foreign traditions that are more exciting for children. It’s true that, as time has passed, the original symbolism of the birth of Jesus Christ has diminished compared to other ideas we now associate with the holiday. However, certain religious and more solemn customs still remain at the center of the celebrations; one in particular is beloved by those who like seeing life-size representations and are a bit nostalgic around the holidays. Today in this article from ShBarcelona we’ll tell you where to see living nativity scenes in the Ciudad Condal.

Related article: Caga Tío – A Catalan Christmas Tradition

See the representations of Jesus’ birth in Barcelona

Photo via VisualHunt

These life-size nativity scenes are Christian representations of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth as the Bible describes it as happening. Barcelona takes great care to prepare its Christmas image, with ornate street ornaments, lights, carols sung by those in the central areas of the city and numerous activities for children (and children at heart) taking place in the streets and plazas of the different neighborhoods and districts of the Ciudad Condal, and the manger scenes are one of the main attractions. Along with the larger nativity scenes, it’s traditional for individual families to place a smaller representation in their home during Advent, with miniature figures and decorations that recreate the scene of Jesus’ birth. Although there are many different styles and designs for this scene, it’s generally set up with the baby Jesus in front of the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph of Nazareth, all situated in the stable where the baby sleeps in a hay-filled manger with warmth provided by a mule and an ox. The three Magis are also present with their respective camels, offering lovely gifts to the newborn king, along with the shepherds who have come to lend a hand in whatever way they can. This tender image is also represented and recreated annually by actors all over the country, and famously so in Barcelona.

Related article: Catalan Christmas Traditions

Photo via VisualHunt

In the Ciudad Condal, you can see living nativity scenes in various locations throughout the city. Generally, these representations are put on by associations and civic centers, where community amateur actors dress as Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, the shepherds, the angels and even the mule and ox to give life to one of the most important images in the Catholic tradition. If you want to take a look at one of these traditional and deeply-rooted theatrical representations, you should head to La Marina Park, where more than 250 figures gather to form over 30 different nativity scenes in the forested area of the park. You can also check out Navas, where the civic center of the Sant Andreu neighborhood has been organizing a stunning manger scene for years. In the Torre de Suro, employees of the Sant Camil school, a school for those with mental disabilities, create a beautiful living nativity scene each year. Some of the other locations where you can see traditional celebrations of the living nativity scenes in Barcelona are Espacio Vía Barcino, El Cottolengo del Padre Alegre next to Park Güell, or the Santa Bernardeta Parrish in Torre Baró.

*Main photo by prayerfriends via VisualHunt

Are you going to see the living nativity scenes in Barcelona this Christmas?

About the author


American journalist living temporarily in Spain. Her passions include news and feature writing, Spanish language and culture and the outdoors.

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