The Valga Moving Artisanal Nativity Scene is one of the most spectacular Christmas events in Galicia, not only for its scale, as it includes more than traditional religious scenes, but also because it covers current affairs.
This has been one of the biggest and most eagerly-awaited social and cultural events of the year since 1995. It is a favourite of not just the locals but also thousands of people who come from all over Galicia to admire the hand-crafted figures representing all types of Christmas motifs and aspects of life and the latest goings-on in Valga and the rest of Spain. It is all made possible by the hard work and dedication of a group of locals in the Friends of the Valga Nativity Scene Cultural Association, which is supported by the town council.
The scenes on display are not the typical images of a desert and camels, which are also present, they also show traditional pig slaughtering, a woman milking a cow, and many other scenes from rural Galicia set in a landscape with different microclimates in a huge space. It is believed to be the largest moving nativity scene in Galicia and one of the biggest in Spain. There are just over 3,000 pieces, many of which move.
Alongside classic religious scenes such as the Three Wise Kings and the birth of the Baby Jesus, there are others which portray traditional practices in rural Galicia (pig slaughtering, the blacksmith, wheat harvest, wine and orujo making, the Santa Compaña myth) and local scenes from the area (processions held over the year in the area, the Festa de Mocidade festivities, the brick factory next to where the nativity scene is placed). The figures include illustrious individuals from the town of Valga (La Bella Otero and Xesús Ferro Couselo) and Galicia (Rosalía de Castro, Castelao, Camilo José Cela).
Current social and political events also have their place: the wedding of the Duchess of Alba, players from the Spanish national football team, election debates.
The figures and decorations are made from paper, plaster, modelling clay, wire, wood, and stone. The work is all done by hand. Everything in the nativity scene is made by hand and most of it is also recycled. For example, the motors that move the figures are used motors from windscreen wipers, electric toothbrushes, and similar items. This artisanal tradition is not a rejection of modern technology, as a computer and programming are used to recreate the different phases of the day and other effects (light, sounds, snow, thunder).