The Traditional Tenerife Belén, or Nativity Scene

Fri, November 30th, 2012 - By Colin

You’re under starter’s orders for the great Christmas shopping rush. Santa Cruz offers the biggest choice of department stores and plenty of cafes and restaurants to punctuate the joyful routine. How about easing your commercial conscience with a good infusion of the Christmas message via a nativity scene with a Tenerife flavour?


Tenerife traditional belén


From the first week of December the capital city has an array of beléns barely a credit cards thrust from the nearest till. The Cabildo building near the Plaza de España lake has a nice multi faceted display, compact but full of detail with the nativity scenes threaded through insights into basic rural life around Tenerife. The tiered model is in the lobby and will charm the loose change out of your pocket and into the donation box for local charities.


Tenerife traditional belén


Just around the corner at Plaza Candelaria you can find Mary and Joseph at the manger backed by some rather aggressive looking cattle. There may be a key ingredient missing, the baby Jesus is used sparingly as two years ago someone nicked the infant. With or without junior it’s still sure to bring a chorus of “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the visitors who flock to see it.

Further up Calle del Castillo, the main shopping street, the Canarian parliament building doesn’t look anywhere near as grand as its name but look for the lime green roof and all will be revealed below. This is a linear display of interlocking scenes of jolly villagers rejoicing in the hills as angels look down on kings and shepherds. Some villagers look like they have been rejoicing a bit too much including one squatting down in a crevice between the rocks to answer nature’s call. Don’t judge him too harshly as it’s a nod to a Catalan tradition called El Caganer.


Tenerife traditional belén


The origin of El Caganer is the cycle of nature and the natural enriching of the soil by a farmer or peasant. This cheeky interloper became a must have in the Christmas belén and there is now a large range of celebrity Caganers including royalty and politicians, you can even order chocolate caganers. The tradition is not as widespread in Tenerife but seek and you may find the party pooper communing with nature.


Tenerife traditional belén


For the best all round belén experience you can’t beat Caja Canarias HQ in Plaza del Patriotismo. Enter a large rolling landscape featuring villages and farms with locals sowing crops and chopping wood as the three kings wend their way across the desert. There are even tiny ponds with real fish splashing around. Day and night are recreated  by the rapid lighting system as hillside fires burn and warm glows pick out the windows of the model houses. This divine inspiration will show you a magical side of Tenerife Christmas for all the family.

Posted : Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 11:26 am
Category : about tenerife
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2 Responses to “The Traditional Tenerife Belén, or Nativity Scene”

  1. Colin Kirby says:

    The Cabildo nativity is now open daily 9 am to 3 pm and 4 pm to 9.30 pm. Exceptions are 24 & 31 December 9 am to 3 pm only, and 25 Dec, 1st Jan & 6 Jan (final day) open 4 pm to 9.30 pm only.

  2. […] that time of year when nativity scenes pop up all around Tenerife, these traditional belens focus on the familiar story of the baby Jesus and the three wise men but in Santa Cruz they have a […]

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