“Nacimiento” is a Spanish word. It means the birthplace; where someone was born. El Nacimiento is a Christmas tradition in Panama that has been passed on from one generation to the next one.
The photograph above is a nacimiento of baby Jesus in a humble stable surrounded by his parents, shepherds, a cow, sheep and a donkey. The three Magi are usually there too, with their presents of frankincense, myrrh, and gold.
The representation of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the donkey, the cow, and the stable is the symbolic celebration of the coming of The Lord, brought to America by the Roman Catholic misssionaries at the turn of the XVth century from Spain.
Many devoted people in Panama will dedicate time, labor and money to purchase a nacimiento; the most expensive the better, in order to show off. However, in the big scheme of things, a humble one will do. What really matters is the remembrance of the birth of the Saviour of the world.
My wife has prepared our nacimiento—shown above— since we got married and moved to our current home, 36 years ago. It is the same one—not a single item has been added. Normally it is removed every year on January 6th, the day of the celebration of the three Magi—Los Tres Reyes Magos.
During the Christmas festivities, you will find nacimientos in homes, private and public offices, public parks, and of course, churches.