Did you know that the island of Gozo actually has a full-size nativity village which opens throughout December and attracts people from all over the world?
Words by VISITGOZO / MINISTRY FOR GOZO | Extract taken from December's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem is Gozo’s live animated Bethlehem village. The attraction is a must-do yearly event for many. Visitors enjoy stepping back in history, witnessing the life, customs and traditions from the time when Christ was born. This unique naturalistic village fuses traditional Maltese customs with that of the nativity story, hence its name which means Bethlehem in Għajnsielem.
Every December over 20,000 sqm of rural land at Ta’ Passi fields are transformed into this expansive, village, featuring a real inn, a bakery, a carpenter’s workshop, a working farm, and a river. Not forgetting of course, the main focus – the live nativity crib where visitors observe Mary and Joseph inside the stable tending to baby Jesus.
Families visiting the village can pet many of the different animals and interact with the Bethlehem inhabitants as they go about their daily chores. You’ll see a horse turning the water mills, chickens and goats roaming around farm fields. A baker busily kneading Maltese bread, a carpenter carving wood using traditional tools while his wife prepares their family meal, a blacksmith working in his forge. It is an impressive and absorbing experience giving you a glimpse into life from 2,000 years ago.
Visitors can buy traditional Maltese foods at the local market and sail along the man-made river using a wooden boat operated via a pulley system! All the actors who play Bethlehem villagers (there are over 150 in total), improvise their roles and interact with the public, who will often ask them questions.
Creating a grand scale historic village on what is essentially farmland, involves a huge community effort with many months of hard work. Local NGO’s and volunteers unite to maintain buildings, cast and rehearse the live actors, doing whatever is necessary to ensure Bethlehem will be back in business for their December 13th opening!
Bethlehem f’Għajnsielem also features re-enactments of the ‘trip’ from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Joseph and Mary, as well as the Adoration of the Magi on the Epiphany (which occurs on the first Sunday after New Year’s day), when the three Wise Men make their journey from Malta to the nativity village.
The village is animated with performers as indicated below:
Tuesday 13th 3:00pm – 7:00pm
Thursday 15th 9:30am – 12:00pm (school students edition)
Saturday 17th 4:00pm – 7:30pm
Sunday 18th 11:00am – 2:00pm
Sunday 25th 4:00pm – 7:30pm
Monday 26th 2:30pm – 7:00pm
Tuesday 27th 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Friday 30th 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Sunday 1st 3:00pm – 7:00pm
Sunday 8th 2:30pm – 7:00pm (adoration of the Magi)
For more information call Għajnsielem Local Council on
+356 2156 1515 or visit bethlehem.ghajnsielem