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The Monumental Nativity Scene begins with an open invitation to all those who wish to take part in its creation.
Once the participants have been finalised, and their skills and capabilities analysed, a calendar is drawn up to allocate their working hours over time.
There are some 40 or 50 artists who take part as unpaid volunteers. These are local people from San Lorenzo de El Escorial: housewives, pensioners, builders, plumbers, painters, carpenters, locksmiths, office and IT workers, etc.
The core grouping is made up of those who began the initiative, with a number of individuals joining or leaving each year in accordance with the interest expressed and personal availability. However, those who have at some time been involved retain their lifelong designation as «Nativity Scene Engineer».
Work begins in mid-October (around the feast of the Immaculate Conception), and ends the day before the official opening, normally the Saturday or Sunday prior to Christmas Eve, although the 2021 edition was brought forward to 6 December, thereby extending the visiting period.
Two working parties are set up: one in the workshops and another outdoors.
The workshops repair any items damaged the previous year (paintwork, breakages, new costumes, the names of the figures), and if time allows, the figures are embellished or other new ones created.
The outdoor work involves preparing the different settings and constructing the various elements: the lake, the oasis, etc., converting the whole outward appearance of the town to that of Galilee more than 2000 years ago.
The volunteers work from Monday to Friday, between 8 and 11 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, working longer hours on Saturday afternoons where necessary.
The organisers of the tasks corresponding to the different trades work under the supervision of the general coordinator: carpentry, painting, polystyrene, electrics, foam, welding, costumes, transport, plants, kitchen garden, supervision, cleaning.
A separate group of municipal workers facilitate logistics with regard to the supply of materials and the use of the vehicles and cranes employed in putting the different elements in place.
Municipal support is also provided for the required electrical installations and lighting, as well as the security camera installation. These tasks end the very night before the Nativity Scene is formally opened, at which point they set about installing the figures that will make it come to life the next day, and throughout the Christmas festivities. For the 25th anniversary, the open-air exhibition marking the date expressed particular recognition of all those who have volunteered their efforts over the years.
The volunteers involved in creating the Monumental Nativity Scene receive a short three-day trip in return, which to some extent compensates them for their months of effort, while helping to forge closer ties among the contributors, thereby making the venture a more long-lasting initiative.