Belén is the Spanish equivalent of Bethlehem.
If you visit a typical Spanish household at this time of year, you are likely to find a Belén, or a nacimiento (literally, birth). This is mainly a representation of the birth of Jesus and always includes baby Jesus in his manger, Joseph and the Virgin, an ox and and a donkey and sometimes, the Angel. The full version will depict the whole town of Bethlehem, with its shepherds and townspeople, its animals and landscapes. Away from the stable, you will see the Three Wise Men on their camels, on their way to see the Baby Jesus. As the 6th January approaches (Twelfth Night, when the 3 Wise Men finally arrived in Bethlehem), the figures will be moved nearer to the stable.
My uncle used to set up a really big, traditional Belén, but this year they’ve gone for a mega-mix of styles, which you can see below.
If you are visiting Spain this time of year, make sure you look for the town’s Belén or the different Belenes around the city. Some of them are beautiful works of art.
With thanks to Kevin for the pictures and to my Tíos for hosting New Year’s Day once more!