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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bethlehem in Tenerife

Belén 

The most important Christmas symbol in Spain and the Canary Islands is the Nativity or Belén (Bethlehem), which in most homes, is arranged under the tree. Oh and this is a truly family affair: don't expect "historical accuracy" in homes. I've seen both Jedi and Barbie dolls attending the baby Jesus, along with shepherds and Magi!

Organized Nativity displays are something else. Town Halls and Associations produce massive works of art each year.

Not just stable scenes, but whole Holy model towns - often, inexplicably, depicting the Canarian location they're at - with working windmills, lights & everything! If you can get to see one in person, it's well worth the trip. If not, here is a sampling.

La Página Navideña - Belenes (Links)
http://www.navidaddigital.com/belenes/
Belenes hogareños (Nativity displays in homes)
http://www.navidaddigital.com/galeria/v/pesebres/

In Tenerife's capital, Santa Cruz, there are two famous Belén displays that are opened to the public each year. The first is in the Cultural Center of CajaCanarias at Plaza del Patriotismo, 1, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Open from December 2, 2005 until January 5, 2006 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. only on Saturdays. Source.

The other is organized by the Cultural department of Santa Cruz Town Hall and can be found in the exhibition hall (Aula Magna) of the Cultural Park, Parque Cultural Viera y Clavijo. This Belén can be visited from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. daily, from December 16, 2005 until January 6, 2006. Source.

The latter, made by José Fariña Bethencourt, covers 55 square meters and has more than 600 hand-made pieces, plus numerous lighting effects and movements, such as the breaking of dawn, nightfall, a storm with winds, thunder and lightening, the apparition of an angel, rivers and canals, the baby crying, etc.

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