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The Tradition of The Nativity Scene

Background behind the Nativity Scene

The nativity scene is a time honored tradition that is seen in many homes, and is an integrated part of Christian religions and the yuletide season. It is the representation of the Christ child usually placed in a manger with his mother Mary and father Joseph in a stable with some farm animals. The purpose of the nativity scene is to bring to mind the actual reason why Christmas is celebrated.as this is a physical representation of the birth of Christ.

The first three dimensional representation is credited to St. Francis of Assisi. The Jesuits of Prague in the year 1562 are attributed to the first modern crib style nativity scene. Santons are clay figurines used in the south of France, mainly Provence that are used to represent the nativity and can consist of hundreds of figurines rather than just the main set that is normally seen.

Through the use of the figurines placed with the crib empty until Christmas Eve, the Shepard on Christmas day, the three wise men on three kings day, the entire story of the birth of Christ can be told out with these representations. Depending on the area, a nativity scene may not be taken down until February or it may be removed as early as January 15. Of course, there are some who remove it right after Christmas. It depends on the particular traditions of the family or group putting up the nativity scene and how traditional they may be. The nativity scene is also a story and so often times a church or group will put on the Christmas time play of the Nativity. The story is of Mary and Joseph finding no rooms available, and Mary about to give birth, finding shelter in a humble barn, or cave, depending on the story, where Mary gives birth to Jesus.

A nativity scene usually consists of a barn or cave that is large enough to house the figurines that are going to be used. There is usually a small crib, a baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, various animals and it may or may not include the Magi or three wise men and the Shepard, angels, or the Star. The pieces usually vary based on the type of nativity scene and how complete it is, many people simply have a sheep, ox, the crib, barn, Mary and Joseph and Jesus.

The nativity scene has many different representations and can be crafted from any materials. From large plastic representations that can be lit from the inside and used as lawn decorations to small figurines made out of crystal, glass or stone. Nativity scenes can even be made out of modeling clay, paper or felt. They may be a picture, or a three dimensional representation. There are outdoor nativity scenes which are placed in front of homes, or much smaller Hummel or Fontanini nativity sets which can be placed on tables.

The nativity scene represents the birth scene of Christ and is an important symbol to the Christian faiths. It reminds people of the humble beginnings and that Christ was born to simple and humble people. It represents the important things in life and serves as a reminder of these things to the people who view it, as the nativity symbolizes the true meaning of Christmas.

J. Cray contributes to http://www.TopChristmasDecor.com as a writer and researcher. Main interests include holiday home decorating and family topics.

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