Somewhere, on a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean, a group of young people are busy constructing a Nativity village, which during the month of December will come to life with about 150 actors animating the crib, including three newborns. The nativity village is situated in the small village of Ghajnsielem in Gozo, Malta just 5 minutes by walk from Mgarr Harbour. The ‘animated crib’ which spans over 20,000sqm of fields on a stretch of land known locally as Ta’ Passi was appropriately called “Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem”. It promises to bring the timeless Christmas story to life as never before. The atmosphere will simply be unique… horses turn mills, villagers go about their jobs, shepherds inhabit caves, animals roam in enclosed spaces and a poor unknown couple tend their newly-born in a grotto.
It is worth mentioning that until October of 2008, Ta’ Passi was just an abandoned piece of land. During that period, the villagers of Ghajnsielem decided to make an experiment and convert the area into a mini-Bethlehem. It turned out to be such a huge success that in the space of just a few weeks, the nativity village managed to attract tens of thousands. The event is sponsored by the Ghajnsielem Local Council with the assitance and support of the Ministry for Gozo the village and NGO's.
Bethlehem f’ Ghajnsielem promises a naturalistic reproduction of the environ of Bethlehem of 2000 years ago. On entrance, a map is given to all visitors to enhance the overall experience. Attractions include the carpenter and blacksmith’s dwellings, the bakery, a market selling natural fruits, fresh fish and vegetables, a tavern, a local crafts area and a barn. Each dwelling is inhabited and animated by whole families, to remind everyone that Christmas is a celebration of the family. The tavern offers local food and wine. A picnic area will offer the unique surroundings for a family outing on Sundays while oil lamps will be distributed for those who want to visit Bethlehem f’ Ghajnsielem by night. Fresh water will be flowing along these structures through a small stream with various water features. The main attraction is certainly the grotto, with baby Jesus in the caring hands of Mary assisted by Joseph with a donkey and a cow close by.
Bethlehem f'Ghajnsielem will also include re-enactments of the ‘trip’ from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Joseph and Mary as well as the Adoration of the Magi on the Epiphany (first Sunday after New Year's day) when the three Wise Men will depart on horseback from Malta to Cirkewwa terminal where they will board a ferry in mid-afternoon before making the triumphal entrance to the nativity village.
'Bethlehem f' Ghajnsielem' will once again bring this timeless nativity story to life in a unique experience not worth missing!