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Home UK Christmas World Archive The Nativity Scene - How it Began

The Nativity Scene - How it Began

The nativity scene or the manger scene is a scene that is traditionally used throughout the winter period to present and explain the birth of Jesus Christ. There are many different variations of this scene as some of them include different animals, characters and there are very few of them that follow the same script. This scene is also performed in a variety of different locations through a multitude of media.

nativity figures of mary, joseph and baby jesus in a manger


Starring Role

The characters that are often present in the nativity scene are the baby Jesus, his mother Mary, the father Joseph. The three main characters are then accompanied by the three wise men, a number of angels, shepherds and a donkey or camel.

Other characters are frequently introduced in an attempt to give the nativity scene a more contemporary feel; it also means that if the nativity is executed by a group of children you can include more of them.


Where Did it Start?

It’s believed that one of the patron saints of Italy, St. Francis of Assisi, founded and developed the ‘Christmas crèche’ that we now know as the Christmas Nativity. It was in 1223 that St. Francis of Assisi created the nativity scene; its purpose was to educate the citizens on the birth of Christ and to reinforce their belief in God.

It’s believed that living animals were used in the original scene and that the people were so inspired by the play that word spread rapidly and many other catholic churches began to imitate the play and produce pantomimes of their own.


How the Nativity Scene has Changed

Over the years there have been many changes that have been made to the traditional static nativity scene; it’s becoming common for celebrities and recognised characters such as Elvis Presley and Silvio Berlusconi standing amongst the shepherds, watching over the baby Jesus.

In recent years there have also been changes made to the location of the nativity scene. In 2007 the Vatican decided that the nativity scene would take place in Nazareth as they felt that it was time for a change and that the scene should return to its origins as described by St Matthew’s gospel.


It’s believed that there are still many more changes to come where the nativity scene is confused; as times change and technology begins to take over the scene with the manger will inevitable be affected by the modern era.


For more information on winter festivities and everything Christmas based, feel free to get in touch with us here at UK Christmas World; we would be happy to help you with any concerns or queries that you may have.

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