Nacimientos (Nativity Scenes)

Nacimiento (photo: César Tián/Revue)

Nacimiento (photo: César Tián/Revue)

While Santa Claus and Christmas trees may be symbols of the Christmas season, nacimientos (nativity scenes) are a Christmas custom the world over.

Saint Francis of Assisi built the first one in 1223 after returning from a trip to Bethlehem. It quickly became a tradition and spread throughout the Catholic world, which included Spain. The Spanish brought the custom to Guatemala.

Depicting the legendary scene where Christ was born, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus hold court in the center of the action. However, the supporting cast isn’t limited to an ox and burro anymore. From volcanoes to palm trees, Guatemalans have combined imagination and environment to make this tradition their own.

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