Monday, November 24, 2014

A walk through Bethlehem in Santa Clara, CA

Each year the Santa Clara first Baptist church puts on a terrific living history play called, "Experience the Birth," in the re-created Biblical City of Bethlehem. Our family goes almost every year, it is that good of a show. The pictures below are from a few years ago but the show has not changed.

Roman guards patrol the entrance

The actors are volunteers from the first Baptist church. Some of the actors are quite good; the first year we went, the Roman guards were so fierce I was glad they were not real!

This is not one of the fierce guards. :-)
 
Anyway, the actors (more than 100!) do an excellent job re-creating the Christmas story. I will summarize the story by quoting the Church website because I could not say it any better.

"The heart of the program is the retelling of the Christmas story. Roman guards enter the city and blow their horns to announce that a census is going to be taken; Joseph and Mary arrive on a donkey looking for a place to stay; the birth of Jesus is celebrated in the stable, accented by music and lighting; the shepherds are visited by a flying angel, then run through the city proclaiming the good news; and wise men from the East and their escorts enter the town on camel back, looking for the newborn king."

Mary and Joseph

The Inns were full . .

Joyful shepherds
 Our favorite parts of the play are the sideshows and marketplace. The marketplace has many crafts people and artisans demonstrating their work. Our children really loved the hands on experience.

Weaving demonstration

now you get to try . .

An explanation of the types of food typical of the times.

How dyes were created.
The sideshows are really entertaining. Before you enter the "City of Bethlehem," you'll see some of the cast doing their bit on the sidewalk. They remain in character! For instance, you can witness the three wise men discussing the star. There is other entertainment as well. I wish I'd been able to get photos of the belly dancers, fire eater and fire hooper; all I got was a photo of me standing in front of a tent.

It's outside, so dress warmly

They also have a few animals to make the play more authentic. For instance, Mary rides in on a donkey and a few sheep are in a quiet area off to the side. My favorite is the camel. And animal lovers don't worry, they seem to be well taken care of.

The camel stays out front, with a light barrier between it and the public.
I love that face!
If you go:  This year the show takes place from Dec. 11 - 15th, from 6:30 - 9pm. Each show is 30 minutes long but you can stay as long as the grounds are open. We always stay at least an hour because there is so much to see and do. I highly recommend bringing a thermos of hot chocolate, though they sell some there, it is the cheap packaged stuff. And BTW, admission is free!

Location: Santa Clara First Baptist Church
3111 Benton Street, Santa Clara
Phone: (408) 241-7635

For more information, please refer to their detailed  website.

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