Pastorets Play and Living Nativity Scenes

Photo of Pastorets Play and Living Nativity Scenes in Bàscara

Living Nativity Scenes are dramatisations or recreations of the birth of Christ that take place over Christmas. Today, many towns have their own living nativity scene, each with its own special features. In most towns, living nativity scenes are composed of a series of biblical scenes (ranging from three to 30) from the Gospel according to Luke, played out by actors to atmospheric music. The main scene is always the birth of Christ but other later scenes are also recreated, such as the visit of the Magi or the flight into Egypt. In some places the Living Nativity Scene is a basic, inexpensive staging of Christ's birth, whereas in other municipalities it is the focal point of the Christmas festivities, taking place in a site of special architectural interest (old quarter, ancient castle) or in the heart of nature, with spectacular staging down to the last detail and with the large-scale participation of amateur actors from the town (often over 100 actors). In some places admission is free and they only take place after Midnight Mass, while in other places there are several functions held over the Christmas holiday as a tourist attraction for which tickets must be purchased. In some places they are staged specially for children while in others they incorporate typical scenes of family life at Christmas of Catalan farmers and shepherds.

The Pastorets (Shepherds' play) is a modern-day version of the mediaeval plays staged in churches on Christmas Day, especially during the early morning mass that later became Midnight Mass. There is documentary evidence form the end of the 18th century and the turn of the 19th century of such plays being performed in the houses of the nobility, no longer strictly liturgical. Today the Pastorets play is no longer confined to the religious sphere and in many cases has become a sign of identity of the place where it is staged. Plays will be staged in many theatres this Christmas. The first will take place on 9th December but the big days are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Some productions extend their run to mid-January and some even stretch to early February. Forty-seven plays form part of the Association for the Coordination of Pastorets Plays in Catalonia, set up in 2006 with the goal of becoming a meeting point for groups and a platform for showcasing and raising the profile of this cultural phenomenon. Almost two hundred functions will be held this Christmas, with an estimated total audience of 60,000.


Pastorets Play and Living Nativity Scenes
17483 Bàscara (L’Alt Empordà)


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