By Christine Joy Ferrer
Blanca Gotchez Melara remembers it well. The potent fragrance of basil, black melons and geraniums adorning Nativity dioramas in her hometown of Santa Ana, El Salvador.
The Nacimientos or Nativities were never just Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus but a more elaborate arrangement of clay, wax, wood, metal, fabric, and beads depicting the Christ birth. The main focus was the replication of a whole town with three-dimensional illustrations from one’s daily life in a variety of scales, symbolizing one’s connection to one’s environment relative to the Nativity. The dioramas could include, among the biblical scenes, figurines of women making tortillas, farmers milk