Traditional Portuguese crib bids for UNESCO heritage kudos

Just as we’re all packing up the festive decorations, Rádio Renascença has run with the news that the traditional Portuguese Christmas crib is making its shot for UNESCO immaterial heritage.

As with the Mediterranean Diet, cattle bells, Bisalhães pottery and the art of falconry, national pride runs deep. The station says the “process” for lodging this latest bid for international acclaim is “lengthy” and may not be presented before 2018.

Other traditional European cribs vying for the same privilege come from Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.

So what, you may ask, makes Portugal’s crib so different from any other?

According to expert José António Falcão of Beja’s department of historic heritage it is “above all, the result of a synthesis between the Baroque and Rococo periods”. The definitive Portuguese crib has developed over the centuries, but it was in the 1700s when it “finally found its own identity”, “an artistic and spiritual manifestation” that unites communities up and down the country every year.

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