In Valencia, the holiday season holds a special place in my heart. In contrast to the US, where many of the season’s activities focus on shopping and purchasing the right gifts for others, the holiday season here is more experience-based. There are new things to see, to do, and to experience as the holidays draw nearer. The city literally lights up in different ways every year, with neighborhoods and the city center creating a festive atmosphere.

This past year, a friend and I also explored a new (for me) aspect of Spanish culture. I’ve talked before about nativity scenes and their prevalence in businesses, homes, and public settings. But this year, we had a mission: to see as many as we could in a relaxed morning of walking around the city.

We started at the City Hall, which is now open for visitors most of the time. In addition to being part of an historic setting, the nativity scene is a three-dimensional reimagination of Bethlehem with an amazing focus on detail. We also viewed scenes in the Basilica and the Diputació de València, or the Valencia Provincial Council. There was a scene in the Governor’s Palace, and one in Mercado Central. There were other scenes as well, interpreted and decorated in different ways to illustrate the nativity story.

Overall, it was a lovely day to walk around the city. As an added bonus, there were groups of students performing in many of the public venues in Plaza de la Virgén and Plaza de la Reina, so there was plenty of excitement and free entertainment.

One other thing to note, related to the comments I have made in the past. The Spanish culture thrives on competition of things big and small, and nativity scenes are a perfect example of this. In Valencia, there is the Asociación de Belenistas de Valencia (Association of Nativity Scene Makers of Valencia), which is part of a larger organization, El Federació de Belemistes de la Comunitat Valenciana (Federation of Nativity Scene Makers in the Valencian Community). Every year, this group publishes a list of different nativity scenes, as well as official collaborations for the group.

Want to read more? Check out my previous posts!

Holiday decoration of the Valencia, Spain, Mail Building

Holiday decoration of the Valencia, Spain, Mail Building

View of the city hall plaza from the city hall balcony

View of the city hall plaza from the city hall balcony

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall

Nativity scene in the city hall - decorated in the style of Joaquín Sorolla

Nativity scene in the city hall – decorated in the style of Joaquín Sorolla

Nativity scene in the Basilica

Nativity scene in the Basilica

Nativity scene in the Basilica

Nativity scene in the Basilica

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the provincial council building

Nativity scene in the Palau dels Marquesos dels Scala

Nativity scene in the Palau dels Marquesos dels Scala

Nativity scene in the Mercado Central

Nativity scene in the Mercado Central

List of different nativity scenes in the area sponsored by the nativity scene association

List of different nativity scenes in the area sponsored by the nativity scene association

 

https://ma.tt/2024/01/birthday-gift/