Pessebres vivants …. real people acting out Living Nativity Scenes.
El Pessebre is a representation of the Nativity Story.
As in many countries around the world, the Catalans have a Christmas tradition of creating a Crib Scene with the Shepherds, Wise Men, Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, a tableau that they will often set up in home or gardens.
In some towns and villages, these Nativity scenes come out onto the streets, life-size, to convey the essence of these festivities
They became popular after the French Revolution of 1789 when churches were closed and Nativity scenes were banned. People started to “bring religion home” by setting up crèches in their own homes, a tradition previously reserved for the rich.
The leading characters, dressed up in period clothes, take their places in meticulously decorated stage-sets portraying traditional, historical and biblical scenes. Sometimes they will also sing and talk, other times they will just stand/sit without moving!!
The census of the Jews, the difficulties encountered by Joseph and Mary as they looked for somewhere to stay, the Nativity and the coming of the Three Wise Men are among the many portrayals you will be able to witness.
In some of these creations, there will be a commentary and spectacular special effects and lighting.
A comical addition to this traditional scene is “El caganer“, the statue of a Catalonian peasant with trousers half down, sitting in a ‘toilet’ position and making his small contribution to the land, in order to fertilize and ensure a bumper crop and good luck for the following year!!