Seville Snapshot: The Feria de Belén

One of my favorite Christmas traditions in Spain is the nativity scene, called a belén. It also happens to be my favorite Spanish name for a girl, though I wouldn’t name my daughter after the Little Town of Bethlehem.

Again, at the risk of sounding un-American, I don’t like Christmas, either.

But the belenes, a household nativity scene, fascinate me. Tiny villages  are constructed out of figurines taking the form of primitive buildings, the Holy Family and even working mills, crops and animals. My own family has the same nativity scene under our tree that we’ve had every year – plastic Holy Family with two faceless sheep, an ox, a plastic angel that balances on a nail up top. I once told my mother I’d do the Spanish tradition of buying one new piece each year, much like I did with my American Girl Doll years back.

Seville holds an annual Feria del Belén, a month-long set-up of small, artisan stands that sell all of these tiny cattle, baskets and shepherds.

Over the years, I’ve marveled at the small effigies and menagerie of barnyard animals, but my long-distance lens caught something quite by accident just last week: the Virgen Mary nursing.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

Comments

  1. Oh Spain.

    On a related note, I totally did a double-take the first time I saw the Catalan “caganer” figures. They were for sale in the Madrid Christmas market, to be exact!
    Cassandra recently posted..Teaching English in the Ukraine: LucyMy Profile

  2. I want to spend a Christmas in Spain soooo bad!

  3. We’ve been using the same Nativity scene since I was a baby. All the pieces in ours are traditional French “santons” that are hand-made in Provence. When I was in Provence this past summer, I went to a few stores where santons were sold–I was amazed how expensive one little figurine barely an inch high cost! We did eventually have to get a new baby Jesus because when I was little I liked to play with the Nativity figurines and they got a little worse for wear. The paint on the old baby Jesus’s face got wiped off! Oops.

  4. we were just in Seville and i absolutely adored these feria de belen scenes! But where can we purchase them online? we just did not have the space to accommodate them in our luggage. thanks so much for your posts!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi Margie, thanks for visiting! The Feria de Belén is only open around this time of year, though I’d venture to guess that you can order online. I was in the center today and didn’t see your post till now at 10pm, but I hope I remember to ask if they’ve got websites. In this day and age, I’m sure they do!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Margie, I stopped by and asked about websites at the Feria del Belén. the only that had a website with shipping option is actually one of the more famous ones: Belenes San Juan Bosco, http://www.belenessanjuanbosco.es. Hope this helps!

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