One of the most important traditions during the Christmas season is the making of “Nacimientos” or “Belenes” which tradition was brought to the country by the Holy Brother Pedro de Betancourt, in the seventeenth century.
At first, the “Nacimientos” were an exclusive representation of Catholic churches; however, over time this tradition quickly spread to the entire population. The main protagonists of the birth are: the baby Jesus in his manger, Mary, Joseph and the wise men of the East, popularly known as the Three Wise Kings, this represents the place where Jesus was born. To create these artistic representations you need different elements, this is why since November in the markets you can see clay statuettes, sawdust of different colors, pine, incense, pacaya leaves, natural moss and many more elements that year after year adorn the “Nacimientos”, all this is a fascinating mixture of Mayan popular art and Catholic tradition.
Today’s families strive so hard that it has become part of the tradition to hold contests to distinguish the most beautiful one, but undoubtedly, the “Nacimientos” have reflected better than any other artistic expression, the ideas, feelings, and degree of religious culture of Guatemalans.