Not a crib, more an entire Bethlehem………

Bethlehem scene

I need to make these observations before Christmas is upon us. I have just come back from a week cycling the volcanic contours of Tenerife and, one day, as I was wending my way through a series of villages perched on the slopes of the volcano, I chanced upon a remarkable scene. Here in the UK, representations of the infant birth are encapsulated by a crib scene, large or small, the focus of which is the birth of the child Jesus. In Spain, they are much more elaborate affairs. Many families and community associations spend months building a whole Bethlehem scene, that can take up a whole room of the house or, as in this case, the whole parking area at the front of the house.

Here, they have used a lot of re-cycled material. Car tyres, painted green, represent the Christmas tree. Plastic containers have been used for houses and buildings. If you study the detail, you will find carpenters and blacksmiths in their workshops, farmers ploughing their fields, millers carrying sacks of grain, women about their domestic chores, children playing in a field. And if you look harder still, you will eventually find the stable with the new-born child and his parents, Mary and Joseph, and somewhere in the distance the Three Kings will be spied making their way to the Bethlehem, following the star. The whole effect of this representational art-form is to remind us that Jesus was born into an environment that was filled with the normal workings of a busy community, and none of this came to a standstill simply because a child was born. It all seems to further reinforce the humanity of the Christ child.

Ah, there's the crib scene!

....and the three kings en route

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on December 24, 2011, in Cycling Tenerife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Ineresting that in Spanish (at least, Spanish Spanish) they say “montar un belén” meaning “to kick up a fuss” – that phrase somehow reflects the amount of effort they put into making their nativity crib scenes.
    Mind you, in South America, they don’t call it a “belén”. Over there, it’s a “pesebre”.


  2. Seasons greetings, Frank. Very interesting photo’s, but looking as hard as I could I couldn’t see “tio cachirulo” with his pants down! Nice to see that the native higos chumbo and agarve(sp?) can be transplanted to Belen.

    All the best for 2012 and look forward to more of your interesting serendipities.



  3. Ah Tony, what you refer to as the ‘tío cachirulo’ I probably know as the ‘meón’ and ‘cagón’, those cheeky little characters relieving themselves in some hidden spot. A bit like a ‘Where’s Wally’ game, it makes great sport (in Cataluña especially) to find these naughty creatures in the Bethlehem scene. But alas, I was in Tenerife, a long way south from the mainland, where they call buses ‘guaguas’ and Spaniards from the mainland ‘godos’.


  4. Peter, now I haven’t come across the expression ‘montar un belén’ (an interesting derivation) but I am familiar with ‘meterse en belenes’ referring to ‘getting mixed up with other people’s problems’. We are back to the etymology of words having two opposing meanings……..


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