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Nativity Scenes, a San Miguel Tradition, Keep Local History Alive

Artista Hermes Arroyo

Hermes Arroyo

Nacimiento en Plaza Cívica

María, José y el Niño Dios en el templo de Santa Ana

Nacimiento del Jardín 2014

Tradicionalista Ángeles Almanza


By Jesús Aguado

That night when Bethlehem glowed under a bright star to commemorate the birth of Jesus is represented annually in almost every house in San Miguel de Allende with a nacimiento,  a Nativity scene where there is a manger with a baby Jesus in a crib, flanked by an ox and a donkey to keep the Christ child warm.

Baby Jesus’s birthday is everywhere you look right now: in window displays; in a wall recess; at street stands and in markets; and even in museums. The figurines that make up the nacimientos are of all sizes, colors, materials, and prices.

A public Nativity scene has been set up in the gazebo of the Jardín Principal of San Miguel de Allende from December 20 to January 6 since 1939. It was the idea of Eulalio Nava (the mayor at that time), who was key in recovering the posada traditions lost during the Cristero War, which banned religious expression in México.

Ángeles Almanza is a sacred art restorer and local traditionalist. She told Atención San Miguel that the life-sized sculptures first used for this San Miguel tradition were made by the locally known santero (maker of religious icons) José Rodríguez, a pupil of her grandfather, Donato Almanza.

Rodríguez donated the sculptures to the temple of Santa Ana in the mid-1970s. To preserve the tradition, Rodríguez asked for Genaro Almanza’s (Angeles’s father) support to sculpt new images.

In 1978, before Rodríguez passed away, he asked Genaro Almanza to continue the tradition. The project then received support from local traditionalist Rubén Villasana, who thought it was a good idea to feature live animals in the scene (donkeys, sheep, and chickens). To this day, live animals are part of the tradition.

Since Genaro Almanza died in 2009, Ángeles Almanza and some family members have been in charge of installing the Nativity scene in the Jardín.

This year, an additional Nativity scene, created by artist Hermes Arroyo, is also being exhibited at the Plaza Cívica, adjacent to the municipal Christmas tree


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