The Heritage Research and Information Center of Cacela/CMVRSA returned this year to set up the Algarve nativity scene, with the participation of the inhabitants of the village of Santa Rita.
In the Algarve, in December, it was customary to set up the nativity scene and the “altarinho” of a popular nature. In houses, on top of the chest of drawers, raised to the center on steps, the Baby Jesus was placed, surrounded by cornflowers, oranges and other fruits, wishes for bread and prosperity for the family. A very old tradition that seems to date back in the Algarve at least to the Middle Ages.
Traditionally, the searinhas are sown on the 8th of December, the day of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in the continuity of the ancient cults of fertility, at a time when the fields are sown.
Wheat, rye, barley grains are placed to germinate in cans or saucers and kept moist while they germinate. They are offered to Baby Jesus with the request for good harvests.
«This ancient tradition associated with Christmas helps us to understand the dimension of uncertainty that accompanied agricultural activity in past societies and the need, throughout the festive calendar, through practices and ritual and symbolic interventions, to establish a connection with the divine entities, asking them to intercede to protect and encourage the eternal rebirth of nature, the fertility of the land, guaranteeing its survival», explains the Heritage Research and Information Center of Cacela.
The nativity scene is on display at the Old Primary School of Santa Rita and can be seen at the following times: Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 13:00 pm and from 14:00 pm to 17:00 pm, until the 6th of January.