Pensioner’s amazing Nativity scene celebrates Latin roots

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A pensioner who hails from Colombia has brought the spirit of ‘Navidad’ to youngsters after creating an elaborate Nativity scene.

Isabel Villegas, who is 87 years old, constructs and arranges the set in a different way every year and continues to do so despite suffering from Huntington’s disease.

The grandmother and her family, who live in Stone, invited 23 children and 17 adults to their home on December 16, to celebrate a traditional Colombian Christmas.

Rossy Winsor, her proud daughter, said: “Only from helping her this year did I see just how imaginative she is, and it’s amazing.

“My mother has done this for at least 68 years and I’ve never known Christmas without her Nativity.”

Every year presents a new challenge for Mrs Villegas who will arrange the scene in her conservatory in a different way using figures hand-made from cloth.

Finding it slightly harder this year, Mrs Villegas enlisted her daughter to help with the arrangement’s decorations and models, some of which have travelled all the way from South America. These models complement the carefully organised natural scenery which Mrs Villegas sources from the families back garden. There is even a working water feature.

To share her hard work with the community, Rossy and her mother hosted an evening of prayer, carols and celebration for Bucks 
families with Latin American heritage.

Rossy added: “This is her medicine, it gives her so much joy and creates such a lovely atmosphere.”

Families from Peru, Mexico and beyond joined in with the reading of a traditional prayer held to commemorate the journey that Mary and Joseph take to the stable.

Children aged one to 14 were then encouraged to pick up a tambourine and help sing traditional Christmas carols and discover more about their shared heritage.

“We thought it would be fun to bring the little ones and they all loved it. They’d never seen a set as large as 
this one.

“If it wasn’t for my mother, we wouldn’t have carried on the tradition, but thanks to her we will continue to do so for years and years to come.”

A Colombian Christmas involves a nine-day celebration in the lead up to the 25th, in order to recognise the perilous journey undertaken by Mary and Joseph whilst searching for safety for their 
unborn child.

In Colombia every family will have their own Nativity set and will host one day of the celebration, where a pre-allocated special prayer is told at each daily stop.

December 16 and the holiday that Mrs Villegas and her family celebrated is known as the Novena, which involves a nine-day prayer ritual alongside the decorating of Christmas trees. Families will make detailed schedules to make sure they don’t miss their neighbours’ displays.

The Colombian side of Rossy’s family are from Santiago el Cali situated in the southwest of the South
American country.