Since 1985

Spanish School Blog

Nativity Scene ( Nacimientos Navidad ) Guatemala

The Nativity Scene or “Nacimiento (as known in Guatemala)” is the representation of Baby Jesus’ birth displayed near the Christmas tree in homes of Catholic families in Guatemala. Thousands of Guatemalans carry out this tradition of assembling the scene in late November, a task that may take a few days, to be ready for December 8th.

nacimiento guatemala

With the arrival of the Spaniards to Guatemala who introduced Catholicism in the colonial era, this Christmas tradition was adopted by many Guatemalan families, which consists in elaborating a representation of the birth of Jesus, called "Nacimiento" (Nativity Scene).

The Catholic churches in Antigua Guatemala build big Nativity Scenes, using natural size figures and sometimes these are even bigger. The “Nacimientos” are accompanied by moss, sawdust and lights, the images of Mary and Joseph, along with those of Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar, waiting for Baby Jesus, which is placed in the scene or Nacimiento during the last mass of the day, which takes place on December 24, on Christmas Eve.

nacimiento navideno guatemala

In some temples and churches, it takes up to 15 days to complete the gigantic Nativity Scenes.

The main precursor of this traditional activity in Guatemala was Pedro de San José de Betancurt in 1625, when in the houses of the City of Santiago de los Caballeros (now Antigua Guatemala), he carried out this activity.

In the beginning of this tradition, “Nacimientos” were an exclusive representation of Catholic churches; however, over time this tradition began to be practiced in the homes of Spanish families in Guatemala, and later extended to the mestizo population as an important activity in the commemoration of Christmas.

nativity scene guatemala

nativity scene guatemala

In the traditional markets of Antigua Guatemala and all of Guatemala, sawdust of different colors, pine, incense, chamomile and other endless elements that year after year adorn the usual births can be observed and bought since mid November. There is differences in how the “Nacimientos” are presented and made according to the place where they are represented. In some villages, indigenous elements can be observed in the Nativity Scenes, while in others the sophistication of lights and modern elements, give a more unique sense.

nativity scene guatemala

nativity scene guatemala

The main protagonists of the Nativity Scenes include the images of Mary and Joseph, together with Baby Jesus in a manger which is placed in the scene at midnight of December 24th on Christmas eve. The Wise Men of the east, popularly known as the Wise Men or Three Kings (Reyes Magos), who presented gifts of gold, myrrh and fragrances to the newborn, are essential figures in this tradition. The Nativity Scene is also accompanied by animals such as cows, sheep, donkeys, and other characteristics of a stable. There are places in Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City where catholic groups deploys Nacimientos (Nativity Scenes) to be admired by the public.

Catholic families, local visitors and tourists, art lovers make tours of the Churches of Antigua Guatemala and the Capital City exclusively to see all the nativity scenes. Some of these are considered as pieces of art, for many of the figures used for the Nativity Scenes are real antique sculptures produced by artist sculptors of the time.

Latest Posts

  • Similar words in English and Spanish with different meanings - Part 1
    - Jan 20, 2020

    For this first article will cover the words “Actually, Embarrassed and Realize”. As you know, there are many words that are the same or almost the same in English and Spanish, as soon as you hear it, you already know its meaning and even its pronunciation. But there are some exceptions that make Spanish language students confuse.

  • Corn Atole Guatemalan Recipe
    - Jan 13, 2020

    "Atol de Elote" is a traditional ancestral drink of Guatemala, made from sweet yellow corn, has a very special and exquisite taste and texture. For the Mayan culture, corn was a sacred food and was consumed daily, either preparing tamales, tortillas or "atol".

  • Purposes and resolutions for a new year - Notes and Tips
    - Jan 06, 2020

    At the Spanish school, we have completed a new year of work and 35 years of existence, we are very grateful for the experiences we have shared in the year just finished and excited about the new year that begins. That is why we want to share some notes on how we can all plan proposals for a new year.

Go to Blog Mainpage


  • January 2020 (3)
  • December 2019 (5)
  • November 2019 (5)
  • October 2019 (3)
  • September 2019 (5)
  • August 2019 (3)
  • July 2019 (5)
  • June 2019 (4)
  • May 2019 (4)
  • April 2019 (5)

  • Tags

  • guatemala culture (50)
  • antigua guatemala (45)
  • learn spanish (23)
  • recipe (21)
  • guatemala (15)
  • cuisine (13)
  • easter week (11)
  • guatemala arts (6)
  • grammar (5)
  • semana santa (4)

  • Sponsor Links

    Spanish Online

    Online Spanish Classes - Learn More

    We are happy to announce our spanish clases online through Skype. If you are not coming to Antigua Guatemala, or wish to get started. Please let us know.

    Get in touch

    Spanish Academy Antiguena

    1a Calle Poniente #10
    Antigua Guatemala

    Tel: 5735 4638

    See the Spanish school in Antigua Guatemala map.

    Have a question? Contact Us