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The Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem experience

The ninth edition of Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem, an animated Nativity village spread over 20,000 square metres of land, opens today. The ‘village’ offers visitors a naturalistic reproduction of the environs of the sacred city of Bethlehem and the timeless Nativity story. It is brought to life with around 150 actors animating the crib and some 50 helpers.

The atmosphere is quite unique with horses turning mills, villagers going about their jobs, shepherds living in caves, animals roaming in enclosed spaces and a poor, unknown couple tending to their new infant surrounded by a donkey and a cow in a grotto.

Attractions include a carpenter and blacksmith’s dwellings, a bakery, a market selling fresh fruit, fish and vegetables, a tavern, a local crafts area and a barn. Running water flows along by the structures through a small stream with various water features.

Other attractions this year include a 30-foot bridge, a small perfumery house where a group of women will be making perfumes and spices, and a mosaic team that will be working on a Roman mosaic.

A group of actors from Greccio and Tolfa, Italy, will be visiting the ‘village’. Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem will also includes re-enactments of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem undertaken by Joseph and Mary.

The visit by the Magi will also be enacted on the feast of the Epiphany on January 7. Re-enactors as the Three Wise Men will depart on horseback from Mellieħa  at 10am to catch the Gozo ferry. They  depart from Mġarr Harbour on horseback at 3pm to make their triumphal entry in Bethlehem and pay homage to Baby Jesus.

Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem is sponsored by the Għajnsielem local council with the assistance and support of the Gozo Minis­try, the village of Għajnsielem and various non-governmental organisations. The council is mainly responsible for the project and the man behind the organisation is Franco Ciangura, who is currently the mayor of Għajnsielem.

Opening times – December: Today, 2.30-7.30pm, Wednesday 13th, 2.30- 7.30pm, Saturday 16th, 4.30-8.30pm, Sunday 17th, 2.30-7.30pm, Wednesday 20th, 9.30am-12pm, Thursday 21st, 9.30am-12pm, Saturday 23rd, 4.30-8.30pm, Sunday 24th, 2.30-6pm, Monday 25th, 3.30-8pm, Tuesday 26th, 2.30-7.30pm, Saturday 30th, 4.30-8.30pm and Sunday 31st, 2.30-6pm.

January 2018: Monday 1st, 3.30-8pm, Saturday 6th, 4.30-8pm and Sunday 7th, feast of the Epiphany, 2-8pm.

On December 20 and 21, Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem will be open for two special sessions in the morning that will be animated by Għajnsielem Primary schoolchildren. Everyone is welcome.

For more information, call the council on 2156 1515 or visit www.ghajnsielem.com/bethlehem.

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