Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition.
Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition. Matt Taylor GLA121217SCENE

PHOTOS: Gladstone woman's giant nativity scene

IN THE spirit of Christmas, a Panamanian woman longing for her country's culture has brought a Latina custom to Gladstone, sharing a unique tradition with her Australian friends.

Yarineth Yarimagaric moved Down Under almost seven years ago.

The mother of three works in the community service industry, lives with her partner and loves Australia.

But that doesn't mean she doesn't miss her home and long for certain traditions she grew up celebrating.

"I miss it so much,” she said.

Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition.
Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition. Matt Taylor GLA121217SCENE

So to tackle the feelings of longing that slowly took over, she decided to build a 3m x 2m nativity scene from scratch.

"For us, Christmas is when Jesus was born. But everyone in Australia celebrates Christmas in their own way, and that is good,” she said.

"It's about what Christmas is for you, and this is what it is for us.”

Ms Yarimagaric said when her Australian friends saw the nativity scene they "just loved it” and told her she had to share it with people.

"They just say they have never seen something it before,” she said.

Ms Yarimagaric said the activity is a popular tradition in Panama and is also popular among Mexicans, Argentinians, Spaniards and several other Latin American countries.

"In my country every house has one,” she said.

Ms Yarimagaric said the beautiful project took her about four years to build, though it wasn't finished just yet.

"You build it a little bit more every year. I do it just when I have time,” she said.

Ms Yarimagaric said her children helped her add new items and expand the nativity scene every Christmas time.

"My kids help me to paint the rocks, they help me to make the houses, they love it,” she said.

"Every year they want to start it earlier. They're eager every year to set it up.”

Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition.
Yarineth Luna, who moved to Gladstone from Panama, has built a nativity scene the size of a train set, as per South American Christmas tradition. Matt Taylor GLA121217SCENE

She said in the future she planned on adding King Herod's castle and soldiers as well as a river with running water.

Ms Yarimagaric has been living in Gladstone for the past three years after moving from Maryborough.

The materials that went into building the nativity scene included cardboard, foam, plaster, paint, masking tape, wire and rope.

The little people included in the display were posted to her from the United States.