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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