Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pessebre brings Nativity story to life

Tonight we took a trip to the neighbouring village of Llanca to visit their Pessebre, which is a series of nativity scenes. It is held in the grounds of a magnificent old house. Fortunately, the high winds earlier today had died down so it made the walk much more enjoyable. Everything is lit by outdoor lighting with Roman soldiers holding flames to light the way. The Irish music and Christmas songs coming from loudspeakers was quite jaunty. It was as if a bit of Riverdance had come to Catalunya.

We passed several nativity scenes, a stable with live horses and a lovely little dark brown pony. Satan and his devils were warmed by their fire. Angels of the Lord in white garb stood on high and King Herod sat on his throne looking sternly over his retinue. Several of the displays showed what life was like in ancient times and some not so ancient times. Women were washing clothes, scrubbing them on a washboard and hanging them over bushes to dry. Schoolchildren were learning their Roman numerals. There were displays of vegetables, seeds and nuts. Cracking almonds by putting them on a log and hitting them with a wooden hammer must have been tedious work. Another lady inserted corn into a black contraption with a winder separating the corn from the husks. There was even an ancient tavern with wine served in wooden cups. Selections of breads of every shape and size were on display.

My favourite scenes included the animals. Several chickens were in little coops and some were scratching away at the grass in an enclosed space. One lady was holding a tiny kid that had a very loud bleat. In another area there were several small, white, very young lambs. Fisher folk  gathered around their traditional boat with real fish in a basket. In all of the displays people were dressed in the garb of the time of the nativity.

We passed the three wise men and several shepherds. As we were nearing the end of the pessebre we wondered where the caganer was. For those of you who don't know, the caganer is usually part of the nativity scene. He is a character squatting with his pants down in the act of defecating in the nativity scene. They are unique to areas of Catalunyan culture. In fact you can buy little caganer figurines of the rich and famous. We hadn't seen one in any of the nativity scenes but just at the end in his own separate alcove was a more modest caganer.

At the end of the pessebre it was time to have a little hot chocolate and a slice of cake. It was a warm, pleasant night for the display, which concludes tonight. It takes a tremendous amount of work to present the pessebre but what a pleasant way to get the whole town out  in the winter time.

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