Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Scenery

The weather has been beautiful in Barcelona. Upwards of 18 degrees (that's Celsius) and dazzlingly sunny. The boys are out with their hola guapa's as if it were the middle of summer. Perfect for Christmas shopping and general holiday related perambulating.

The Old Town feels particularly atmospheric of late. The Christmas lights have been up for a couple of weeks now. Every second tienda is selling Navidad sweets. The Feria de Santa Lucia gives the cathedral square a carnival like feel. And they've finally unveiled the creche in Plaça Sant Jaume.

The creche had been hidden for several weeks behind tall fencing, like the fencing around construction sites, the kind that helps build anticipation. Unveiled, it's quite lovely, even though so much religiosity doesn't always agree with me.

This year, the creche is an intimate thicket bisected by a path. In between the poplars and shrubs are carved wooden lambs, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Behind them, in a nod to modernity, are chicken wire crates of varying sizes containing natural materials native to the Mediterranean coast: evergreen boughs, grasses, rocks, shells. These are not containers of left over greenery not yet disposed of by the normally efficient Barcelona clean up crews, as I originally thought. They're intentional, in fact. The display is meant to call attention to the intersection of modernity and tradition, the urban and the natural. That's what it says on the Catalan only plaque explaining the scene, in any case. Well, that and no dogs allowed.

Walking through the creche might actually have evoked a "communing with nature" effect were it not for the throngs of others also making their way through. I suppose that's the interactive "urban" portion of the display. And what's December without a little thronging? Really, it helps build up that healthy misanthropy that Christmas dinner was created to dissipate.

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