25th of December and 5th of January, 2023
One of my most vivid memories of the Christmas holidays in Cataluña, is the ‘pessebre vivent’ in Pals or the Living Nativity. As darkness falls, the medieval village comes alive for a couple of hours. Hundreds of visitors flock over the old cobblestone road.
On every corner of the street, the church square and the old market place, the inhabitants of Pals are representing Nativity scenes. Torches are illuminating the historic buildings. More than 200 participants are guiding the visitors through different passages of the old and new testament.
Our children were very small, when we took them for the first time to the Christmas celebrations in Pals. I remember their glowing faces in the soft light of the street lanterns. Now, 30 years later, we see the same glow on the face of other people’s children. This time I don’t recognize any of the participants anymore; another generation replaced the older inhabitants of Pals. The event has grown bigger with more Nativity scenes. The only thing I miss are the donkeys!
Another important festivity for the children, is the arrival of The Three Kings or Los Reyes Magos on the 5th of January. Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar enter the town on their horses (or camels), late in the afternoon. In most big cities in Spain it is celebrated with a huge parade. Here, in ancient Begur, the ceremony is intimate. Candies are thrown to the children and in the early hours of the 6th of January, the Three Wise Men are leaving presents under the Christmas tree. The “clip clop” of the horses, the colourful costumes and the sound of the drums are just like a fairy tale. The decor of the 17th century ‘Església Parroquial de Sant Pere’ makes the story complete!