By Allan Wall
December 20, 2009
Bionacimiento Enliven Christmas in Mexico's Capital
The Mexican celebration of Christmas (Navidad) is a joyous season and an important part of the national identity. No matter what is going on in Mexico – and there are plenty of problems – the season of Navidad never fails to provide joy and encouragement through family togetherness, the observance of traditions and the festive nature of the season itself.
I recall some years back, my wife and I visited Mexico City after Christmas and before Three Kings’ Day on ( January 6th ) and we saw an enormous artificial Christmas tree in the main Zocalo plaza (not to be confused, however, with the new Christmas tree I’m about to describe).
Besides the usual sights to see, visitors to Mexico City this Christmas season have the opportunity to see two great Christmas-related tourist attractions - the world’s largest artificial Christmas tree and a “bionacimiento.”
The Christmas tree was constructed on Reforma Avenue, half a block from the U.S. embassy. It has officially been declared, by no less an authority than the Guinness Book of World Records, as the world’s biggest artificial Christmas tree. (You can see a picture here).
Just how big is it? The tree has a height of 110.35 meters (That’s 362 feet for those of us who think in English measures). It’s 35 meters (114 feet) wide.
Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard presided over the official lighting ceremony, which was held on the evening of December 5th. Christmas music was perfomed for the ceremony by the Shola Cantorum orchestra and the Mariachi Gama Mil.
The Mexico City tree beat out the previous world’s largest Christmas tree, which was located in Aracaju, Brazil. (Interesting how of late Latin America is dominating the large artificial Christmas tree competition). The Mexican tree surpassed the Brazilian tree’s height by nine and a half inches.
The Mexico City tree is composed of steel wires and has 1.2 million light bulbs with 80 kilometers of cable.
The tree is red, white and blue. Why? Because it is sponsored by the Pepsi company, and those are the Pepsi colors. Pepsi is challenging Coca-Cola for its massive market share. Coca-Cola currently has about 70% of the soft drink market and Pepsi has only 16%, so the latter company has a long way to go. Coca-Cola has about 50 of its own (smaller) trees in Mexico’s Chapultepec park.
According to Alejandro Rojas, Mexico City Tourism Secretary, one of the goals of the tree is to get more tourists to visit the city, which is visited by 11.5 to 12 million tourists annually.
Elsewhere in Mexico’s sprawling capital this Christmas season, tourists and locals can also visit a “bionacimiento.” What’s a bionacimiento?
To begin with, a nacimiento is a traditional Mexican crèche or nativity scene, representing the birth of Christ. The nacimientos in Mexico are often quite elaborate and large. The bionacimiento has life-size human figures, plants and live animals. What kinds of live animals? Well, there are sheep (after all, there are shepherds so it’s logical to have sheep) and goats, but also rabbits, canaries, parrots, fish, and an iguana.
The bionacimiento covers 150 square meters and cost 252,000 pesos to construct. It has three parts: creation, a representation of paradise, and of the birth of Christ. (See photo here).
This elaborate setup is scheduled to be open until January 10th, which would leave it open until after Three Kings’ Day, a big holiday in Mexico City.
According to Mariano Rodriguez, leader of the private organization that constructed the bionacimiento, “Being surrounded by nature is a unique and original way to represent the origin of our land and the birth of our Savior.”
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On that note, I wish all the readers of News with Views, wherever they may find themselves, a hearty Merry Christmas, or as they say in Mexico – ¡FELIZ NAVIDAD!
© 2009 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.