„Silent night! Holy night!
All’s asleep, one sole light,
Just the faithful and holy pair,
Lovely boy-child with curly hair,
|: Sleep in heavenly peace!“
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), 1816
While families now start to decorate their Christmas cribs with little wooden figures, a shining Star of Bethlehem and mini sheep, some villages in Catalonia have already been preparing one single nativity scene since almost a year – without wooden figures. We are speaking of the “pesebres vivientes” – “living cribs”. The inhabitants dress up like the people 2,000 years ago and transform the entire village into an enormous living crib.
The most famous pesebre takes place since 1973 at Bàscara (near Figueres). Under the most beautiful, however, also figures the one at Pals, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday. 1987 a group of enthusiastic
young people organised the first living nativity scene. Encouraged by their success they created the base for a bigger spectacle, which
nowadays attracts almost 10,000 visitors every year. More than 300 actors, organisers and technicians turn the picturesque medieval town centre into the perfect scenery for the Christmas event.
Already in 9th century the location of “Palus” was mentioned in the chronicles. In those times the village was situated on top of a hill surrounded by marshes. Its impressive walls had been erected in 13th century, as well as the “Torre de les hores”, which now is the town’s emblem. In the torch-light between ancient buildings we feel moved to the 2,000-year-old Palestine. Angels in the olive trees. Joseph and Maria are cradling little Jesus. The Three Kings have arrived and bring precious gifts. In the alley people are spinning flax, baking bread, forging, cobbling, sewing and cooking. Chicken gaggling. Gooses babbling. Horses whinnying. Like the other visitors we move towards the Holy Family, totally enchanted by the hustle and bustle – which has nothing to do with the normal Christmas stress of 21st century. History and tradition, legend and myth, opulence and poverty, humans and animals, men and women, kings and vassals, commerce and religion – Pals makes us part of the greatest history of occident.
If you want to enjoy Pals and its wonderful surroundings for some days longer, we recommend you Mas Salvi, an exclusive hotel surrounded by woods and Mediterranean grassland. The charmingly restored 17th century manor house offers 22 suites with own terrace and direct access to the garden. For New Year’s Eve a big party with gala dinner and live music will be celebrated in the hotel-own restaurant. Get more information on www.massalvi.com.
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