Nativity Scenes

The beginning of Advent, and the beginning of December are the signal to Spaniards to start thinking about Christmas. The traditional flower is the poinsettia and they are used in huge numbers. The central reservations of dual carriageways, and roundabouts are suddenly carpeted in brilliant red. They appear on balconies, in shops and restaurants, just about everywhere.
Now also heralds the appearance of Belens, as nativity scenes are called here. Belen translates into English as Bethlehem, and when you see your first Belen you realise why. Where in England you are treated to a stable, Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus and assorrted farm animals, in Spain you are presented with the town of Bethlehem, complete with local shops, workshops, parks, farms, Roman soldiers manning the local fort, shepherds out on the hills with their sheep... just about everything you could imagine. Not just static; the blacksmith is hammering out a horseshoe, the weaver is weaving, the baker is kneading his dough. One was featured on the local television channel last night, which involved 9,000 separate items and covers thirtyfive square metres.
I'll be keeping my camera with me for when I come across some Belens, and then hopefully I'll be able to post some photos here.

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