The tradition of setting up the nativity scene is not only Spanish, of course. Nor can we limit its area of ​​influence to the Italian or South American peninsula. There are dozens of countries where the custom of the nativity scene, even though it is weaker than in our country, survives among the many fans who bring home the Nativity Scene every Christmas. But let's see some curiosities of the nativity portal through the World.


The areas of influence of the Bethlehem portal

By logic, the nativity scene was easily extended by Catholic countries: Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. From our country it spread to Latin America, and to the United States due to the migratory phenomenon and a tradition that also they took the Mormons.

In Africa, by European colonialism, first, and by the action of religious missions, afterwards, there are some countries where we can see samples of nativity scenes made with an own style where it is left to see the art, traditions and dresses indigenous to each region. Rwanda, the Central African Republic, Congo and Nigeria are just some of the countries that sign up for the nativity scene every year.

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Detail of a Birth of the Congo. Image: Forums of the Virgin


Curiosities of the Nativity scene website

Undoubtedly, one of the most known places for its nativity scenes was the Kingdom of Naples. From his legacy, the Nativity scene has appropriated the term "Neapolitan crib" to define a very peculiar Nativity typology, where the typical costumes of the zone during the XVIII and the urban character of their representation stand out, with special emphasis in the commercial activity.

It is not the only area that gives a personal touch to the representation of the Birth of Christ. In the French region of Provence, characters known as santons, some small clay saints that represent the Nativity. They also often include popular people of the Provencal people, such as the mayor or the priest. In the same way In Catalonia, the character of the caganer; in Extremadura, the goat Machorrita; and in Madrid, the chestnut tree.

Another very original tradition is the cracoviana. It is this Polish region, the nativity scene is called szopka and represents a temple in Slavic style where the scenes of the manger are inserted: the Birth occupies the main place in the balcony of the facade, and the rest of personages is organized by the rest of the temple.

In Germany, the weihnachtsberg, landscape mangers that mimic the religious character with the mining landscapes of the Czech border area. Hungary has also taken up in recent times a tradition similar to the nativity scene: betlehemezés, a kind of puppets that represent the Nativity and with which a small theater is usually done by the smallest of the house.

A little further, in the Peruvian region of Ayucucho there is the so-called "altarpiece ayacuchano " which consists of a birth inside a kind of wooden box, which when opened recalls the great altars of the temples of the region, but laden with colorful figures.

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Typical Ayacucho altarpiece. Image:

The african cribs they have very peculiar characteristic notes. In addition to being an authentic representative sample of local crafts, they teach us the customs and ways of life of each country. In the Congo, for example, the figures are usually very stylized, and the ox is replaced by the cow native to that country.


Something characteristic of nativity scenes throughout the world is that, except for some places where the archaic traditional character of their culture prevents it, the cribs evolve with the times, incorporating new popular characters emerged over the years, increasing their level of professionalization and, more recently, incluyendo automatic controllers for lighting of the nativity scene.

Did you know these curiosities of nativity scenes from other parts of the world?


(Cover image: retablo ayacuchano; source: Pinterest)


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