Meta: Exploring the link between the nativity scene and Christmas.
Few things scream that Christmas is right around the corner other than nativity scenes filling up the stores, our neighborhood churches and of course, our homes. After all, what spreads the true meaning behind Christmas more than the baby Jesus in a manger surrounded by farm animals, Mary, Joseph and the three wise men?
Of course, nowadays things are rarely as simple as that, in more recent nativity scenes people like to add characters to personalize nativity scenes to reflect their personal interests or something that speaks volumes about their family’s tastes, such as a Homer Simpson figurine or perhaps some Lego men.
While this trend may have yet to migrate to our communal Churches or certain homes, the theme of personalization has invaded everywhere and not even the nativity scene escaped. Today we decided to share the history behind the nativity scene and Christmas with you, to help you get into the spirit of Christmas.
For those of you who are wondering, the original nativity scene was first presented in 1223, by none other than, St Francis of Assisi. According to accounts from that time St Francis was granted permission by the Pope Honorius the third to create a real life nativity scene replica. Therefore, St Francis located a suitable cave, set up several bales of hay and borrowed a donkey – known in those days as an ass and an ox from the local community and set about erecting the very first nativity scene.
When he was finished constructing the replica of the birth of Jesus Christ, St Francis gathered local members of the community to come and look upon the conditions where Jesus was born in. St Francis was said to have been so emotionally affected by the replica of the nativity scene that he could not say Jesus but instead referred to him as the ‘babe of Bethlehem’.
The appeal of the nativity scene spread effortlessly throughout Europe, while it is not known whether the original play used figures or people acting out the individual roles for the human characters within the nativity scene, both wax figures and actors were used in later years in order to increase their appeal to the general public.
The word nativity is a derivative of the word – natal – the meaning of this word is a time of birth or simply birth. Many of us have had the pleasure of being part of a nativity play either through our Sunday Schools at our local church or through our schools during the early years. These rites of passage is so much fun for children and most want to be angels, however there are many exciting characters to play as from the main individuals such as Mary and Joseph to the donkeys and oxen, personally I think the donkeys are always really cute.
In certain countries the focal point of all Christmas decoration is the cribs, in Naples in Italy cribs have been used as decor items since the year 1020 during the festive time of the year.
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