Spiritual and religious celebrants of the Christmas holiday often cherish and proudly display the symbol and the story that the Christmas nativity set stands for. The manger scene depicted in these sets is of the birth of baby Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the Christian faith. In this image, baby Jesus is surrounded by his mother Mary, her husband Joseph, and often other characters from the story of Jesus’ birth, such as the three wise men, oxen, angels, and sheep.
The history of the first ever scene of this type dates back to 800 years ago, when St. Francis of Assisi created the oldest recorded manger scene in history. His nativity story was a real live reenactment held in a cave in Greccio, Italy. Living animals and people served as a reminder to others what the Christmas season is truly for. St. Francis hoped that this reenactment would bring Jesus back to the forefront of the holiday.
Since that event nearly eight centuries ago, the non-living Christmas nativity set has become more common than fully live reenactments. Rooted in twelfth century Italy, these scenes began as pieces to be displayed in churches. Two hundred years later, in the 1500’s, higher class citizens began to display these scenes in their homes. Artists began to create versions made of various materials, such as wood and wax, even dressing the characters in the scene with fine fabric clothes made small enough to fit the tiny sculptures.
Over time, the popularity of the Christmas nativity set grew and began to spread to every nation with Christian citizens. The traditions surrounding the scenes have shifted and changed along with the aesthetic, design, and materials used to make them, but the message has always remained the same. A modern-day Christmas nativity set can come in many forms and sizes and can be made of a wide variety of materials. Homeowners can choose sets that match the existing decor theme of their home. For more rustic homes, carved wooden sets may be a better option than crystal or hand-painted ceramic. For traditionalists, stone or glass sets offer a timeless accompaniment to existing decorations.
The wide variety of sizes available also allows modern home owners the flexibility to select the Christmas nativity set perfect for the amount of space in their home. Those who live in smaller apartments or those who would like to display the Nativity on their desk at work may opt for purchasing individual pieces to create a smaller set of just Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Whereas a church or a homeowner with ample space may want to purchase multiple sets to display. Even outdoor sets have become popular. Whether made of carved stone for permanent display or lighted plastic for seasonal display, home owners can choose the outdoor set that is right for them.
Regardless of how a home owner showcases their set, it is guaranteed that the true meaning of the season will be depicted in a beautiful, meaningful way.