The Pastorets is a Christmas play that originated a long time ago. It is based on the Mediaeval dramas, sung in Latin at first, and performed as part of the Christmas Eve services. These services were known as Oficium Pastorum, and the first texts in Catalan date from the 15th century.

This spectacle went into decline in the 16th century as a result of the rulings of the Council of Trent, when this kind of representation was forbidden in churches.

From the 19th century, the genre experienced a revival and new Pastorets texts were written in Spanish. However, in 1887 Miquel Saurina penned the first modern version in Catalan, and in 1901 Frederic Soler's Pitarra raised the Pastorets to the level of cult theatre. Many authors have written versions of the Pastorets. Particularly popular are L'Estel de Natzaret (The Star of Nazareth) by Ramon Pàmies, from 1903; Els Pastorets o l'Adveniment de l'Infant Jesús (The Little Shepherds or the Coming of Baby Jesus) by Josep Maria Folch i Torres, from 1916; and La flor de Nadal (The Christmas Flower) by Francesc d'Assís Picas, from 1954.

In general the plot is built around three different stories: the first is the betrothal of Joseph and Mary, the couple then looking for lodgings, and the birth; the second is the battle between the angels and demons; and the third, which is comic and folkloric, focuses on the shepherds.

Nowadays, the Pastorets is staged all over the Catalan-speaking territories. Together with the Passions, these are the most deeply-rooted traditional plays.

Around Christmastime in Barcelona, there are many amateur performances of Els Pastorets put on by different groups and drama companies. These are usually attached to other organisations such cultural centres and parish groups, and  may also be affiliated to the Coordinadora de Pastorets de Catalunya.

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