The story of the traditional Nativity is one that has been passed down from generation to generation every Christmas for years. Whether or not we know the story to be true, we all know the history behind the birth of Jesus Christ and how he came to be. The Nativity scene is a painted picture of that story and is often placed as a high priority when it comes to getting the decorations out at Christmas time.
Whether you have a little wooden nativity set, you make your own every year or you have a delicate set of porcelain nativity figurines, you or your family will certainly have your own tradition for setting out the nativity in time for Christmas. While the main story remains largely unchanged, the setting of the scene and its importance in each family can vary greatly from household to household. So how does setting your nativity scene affect the story? We’ll take a look at great ways to incorporate story telling into decorating your home for the winter season.
Making A Game Out of It
One good way to set up your nativity scene is to make a whole evening out of the process. Gather the family around and clear a space for the scene to be placed, either on a dedicated table or near the Christmas tree. Somewhere where it can’t easily be knocked or bumped into as most nativity figurine sets are delicately made.
For larger scenes, you can take turns deciding how the nativity scene should be set up, with different buildings placed in different locations. So long as the stable remains in the centre of the scene, it shouldn’t matter too much how the rest of the scene is set up. This way you’ll get the kids involved and invested in the experience.
Divide the character figurines up among the family members, trying to give each family member an equal amount of figurines. Set the baby Jesus to one side as he will be placed last.
Getting the Story Across
Now comes the storytelling part. Begin the story of the Nativity, either from memory or use a storybook to help you. When you come across a particular character, have the owner of the character figure place it in the nativity scene. If you have a wide range of figurines, this can take some time but it can also be quite exciting as people look forward to finding their characters in the story.
By setting an evening aside for this you are able to take your time explaining the story to everyone, involving the whole family in the tradition and educating any newcomers on the story and meaning behind the nativity. Once you are finished you have a nearly complete nativity scene created as a team!
Placing Baby Jesus
There are two most common times to place the baby Jesus within the nativity scene and that is the night before Christmas or Christmas Eve, or on Christmas Day. The lore states that Jesus Christ was born late Christmas eve, so he really should not be placed in the nativity beforehand, but it is entirely up to you. There are benefits in placing him on either day so you can decide when the best time to place him is.
The Night Before – Placing the baby Jesus in the scene on Christmas Eve makes a great way to wind down festivities and calm children down before they go to bed for Christmas Day. It can sometimes act as a sort of ‘treat’ as the particular person picked to place him changes from year to year.
Christmas Day – If you have a particular method or plan for your Christmas day, placing the baby Jesus can break up your festivities in a good way. Perhaps you can arrange to place him before the dinner and after opening your stocking presents. Perhaps you would like to place him after all the presents have been opened, the choice is yours. It is important that everyone is focused for the ‘finishing of the nativity’ as that is one part of what Christmas is all about and it gets the message across in a way clearer than just reading passages from the bible.
At the end of the day, the nativity scene is a timeless and creative way to re-tell the story of Mary, Joseph and the virgin birth and whether you tell it using pipe cleaner figurines, or more expensive nativity figurines, the message still needs to be passed on.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with a number of interior designers and decorative product designers, including The Chinaman – who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.