One of the family Christmas traditions we have at our house is displaying our collection of nativities. St. Francis of Assisi set up the first nativity scene in 1223. He wanted the people to understand more about Christ’s birth, and at that time sermons were given in Latin, a language most common people didn’t understand. St. Francis started teaching the people by planning a live nativity (like we have at our church) to help people visualize what that first Christmas might have been like.
The Moore Methodist Museum at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simon’s Island has a wonderful display of nativities. Signage there explains, “Once known as the “poor man’s Bible,” the nativity set reflects the story of the Messiah’s birth as told from different perspectives.” Our family collection is certainly not as big as the one at Moore Methodist Museum. It has great meaning to me though because there are sets from different countries and made of different materials. Looking at them makes me see the Holy Family through the eyes of people from all over: Ukraine, Viet Nam, Nepal, and Mexico, to name a few. Our sets are made of many different materials: wood, cloth, glass, metal, clay, and straw. We have some that are not much bigger than the tip of your finger, one that is made inside a small matchbox as the stable, and a larger one that we display in our yard each year to share with our neighbors.
By displaying and looking at these different nativities I feel closer to Jesus and to others who worship Him.
The picture included is of a nativity from Nepal. Baby Jesus is in a little hammock, Mary has a long black braid and bright earrings, and Joseph has a turban on his head and a black mustache. There is a basket of green leaves in the back.