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Twelve Days Till Christmas

betlem

The countdown to Christmas has started. Christmas lights have been switched on in Palma and also in the villages. There are Christmas markets everywhere, and there are plenty of Betlems (Beléns in Spanish, nativity scenes).

Here’s the thing about Christmas in Mallorca, or in the whole of Spain: it is traditionally not an important event, really. Spain celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings on January 5th as the big event. Christmas trees and poinsettias and Christmas presents are symbols that were introduced by expatriates and by tourists during the last thirty or forty years and that have now acquired their place in Spanish society, but the big event that Spanish children are really waiting for are the Reyes Magos (Three Kings). Spanish children will get their presents in January, no question about that or, better put, Spanish children get presents now, for Christmas, and more so and again, for the Three Kings.

An indisputable Spanish Christmas custom, though, is the lovingly arranged set-up of a Betlem in their homes. Certainly in Mallorca, every single Mallorcan family takes pride in having a Betlem on display in their entrance area, often in full view also for the passers-by. Not so long ago, it used to be the custom that Mallorcan houses were open for visits on one or two afternoons before Christmas Day for anyone who wanted to come and admire their Betlem. It appears though, that this custom is perhaps on the wane.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 3rd, 2008. The time was 11:58:36.

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