Totalan’s Christmas folksong contest

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Totalán Certamen de Pastorales y Belenes

Totalan’s Christmas folksong contest, Saturday, 1st December 2018.

If you want to get into the Christmas spirit then go to Totalán on Saturday, 1st December to celebrate the traditional Christmas songs of Málaga.


The event, called ‘Certamen de Pastorales y Belenes’ takes place at 19.00 hours on the 1st of December at the 16th century church, Iglesia Santa Ana. 

Totálan Christmas Event

The singing competition in Totalán celebrates the tradition of singing groups, known as Pastorales and Belens in Málaga. However, the event also hopes to rescue these old folklore songs from the clutches of obscurity, as many of these singing groups have died out. 

The tradition of Pastorales y Belenes is thought to be at least 200 years old and was an important heralding in of Christmas in the Málaga region. Typically at the beginning of December, Pastorales or Belen singing groups would form (usually only men) to sing songs celebrating the birth of Jesus. The singers would accompany themselves using hand made instruments such as tambourines, zambomba (drum) and cymbals. Over time, songs that were more celebratory of the Christmas traditions and less religious crept in.

The groups would parade through the streets and farms of the area, hoping that onlookers would reward them with a glass of wine and cake.  The group would normally have a conductor, holding a long rod, adorned with ribbons.

The tradition has sadly been lost over time although there are efforts, such as this event in Totalan to revive it.  The groups in Totalán will include Belen de Moclinejo, Peña ‘Er Salero’, Estrella del Alba and Belèn de Totalán. Unlike the male only groups of times past – these ones do include women!

How to get there...

Totalán is 22 kilometres from Málaga and 9 kilometres from the coast at Rincón de la Victoria. It is a charming little Moorish village with narrow, steep, winding streets and whitewashed houses, on the eastern border of the Axarquia, close to the Montes de Malaga. Definitely worth the visit.

Julie Lewis

Julie Lewis

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Julie Lewis

Julie Lewis

About Me

My husband and I worked in this lovely part of Spain for over 11 years, founding both a magazine and newspaper for English speakers in the region. Always our aim was to give people a better insight into the fascinating eastern Málaga region, something that we now aim to continue with our website.

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