What are nativity scenes?
Nativity Scenes A few years ago I spent Christmas with family in Honduras. The decorations were amazing. In mid-western United States, we generally have our Dickensian winter villages or happy elves, in Honduras there were nativity scenes (or Nacimientos) everywhere, in house, on porches and outside in wooden alcoves. Since that trip, I’ve found them in other Latino households.
Nacimientos aren’t the elegant store-bought crèches that I was used to seeing. They were amazing, and some were huge. My brother’s family now has one, it takes up an entire 4-foot long bench in the entrance of the house. And, yes, it has the wisemen, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, but it also has other animals and figures. It has a village and trees and I’ve even seen some of my nephew’s lego people and a Spiderman in there. And why not? We try so hard to teach our children that Jesus is part of our lives, yet we separate him from the rest of the village. This isn’t Santa kneeling at a crèche, it’s Jesus in the center of our village, our community. My nephew wanted his Spiderman, someone whom he held at great esteem, to be there worshiping Jesus along with the shepherds and wisemen. What better way is there to help us to remember the importance of the birth of Jesus if not to include in the scene some of our prized possessions and things that represent what we care about?
If you don’t yet have a nativity scene, you can buy or make one. And if you do have one, how can you make it more central in your life, incorporating ideas, images and representations of things that you hold dear? (Gennie)
Although Christmas trees and other decorations can be seen in Mexico, the most iconic decoration during the holidays is the Nativity scene. These scenes portray the birth of Jesus and can be extremely ornate. In temples and churches, the scenes are especially large and impressive; some even employ live actors to recreate the parts of Mary, Joseph and others. It’s also traditional to leave the manger empty until Christmas day, when baby Jesus is placed inside.
(from Journey Mexico)
Make Your Own Nativity Scene
This is a free downloadable activity. The drawings were published as part of the Episcopal Children's Curriculum and are now available on the Virginia Theological Seminary webpage.
Storybook and Images
At the Manger: A story of Jesus' birth
This is a free downloadable story book with beautiful illustrations. It was published as part of the Episcopal Children's Curriculum and is now available on the Virginia Theological Seminary webpage.
Images from "At the Manger" storybook
Nativity Scene (outside resources)