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It was my first holiday season living in Seville, Spain. And there, the nativity, called the Belén (or Bethlehem), is the cornerstone of the holiday decorations, depicting the entire city of Jesus' birth. So while I missed the snowmen, Christmas trees, and Macy's storefronts of my Chicago home, I was glad that I would still be able to set up a nativity scene in my temporary one.
In the Plaza de San Francisco, a huge square in the city's cobblestone center, was the annual nativity festival. I had never seen the plaza so full-full of white tents, of artisans, of families.
There, it's also the kids' jobs to assemble the nativity. Each winter the kids pick out new figurines to add to their scenes. On tiptoe, they peer over the edges of the makeshift booths, thrusting their little fingers at the characters and set-dressings they want in their Belén that year. Some buy miniature pig legs, rabbits, and morcilla (blood sausage). Others buy miniature gardens, loaves of bread, and tables. Observing the tradition amid the throngs of shoppers, it looked to me as if the children were preparing tiny, ceramic feasts for their tiny, ceramic Jesuses.