Each year during the festive period the towns and villages of Spain exhibit models of the story of Jesus. Some are very grand, while others are simple but each is unique in the models used and the way in which they are displayed. Local craftsmen fashion the models with great care and in some of the local Christmas markets it is possible to buy them.
I have visited the Belen at Torrevieja a few times and it is always a delight. Several characters make repeat appearances and half the fun is trying to identify them amongst the different scenes on offer. There’s the woman falling down the stairs breaking her eggs, the man squatting behind a bush and the one warming his bottom by the fire. Several of the scenes are also mechanised and I love to see the woodcutter, the seamstress and the grape-presser.
Of course, Mary, Joseph, Jesus and other characters from the bible feature at various stages of their lives but there are also scenes depicting the local life of the area. In the Lorca Belen, the local Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick and the Plaza de Espana dominate the display, while in Torrevieja it is the salt industry and the wine of La Mata which features.
Finally, it is not only in the main squares of the towns and villages that you find a Belen. Many people have a small nativity display inside their own homes.