by Anita Mae Draper
We interrupt the regularly scheduled 19th Century Sleigh post series to bring you this photo-journal of information on Nativity sets I've collected through the years. This decision wasn't taken lightly but with the assurance that there will still be snow - probably lots more of the white stuff, in January and and the topic will still be current at that time.
This post is actually a spin-off from Inky Susanne Dietze's contribution to the 12 Days of Inkies, Two Babies in the Manger. In the post, Susanne asked about our Nativity sets and after listing all mine, interest was shown in actually seeing them.
I didn't start out collecting Nativity sets although I crafted my first manger scene as a child. While growing up, our house contained the usual commercial images of Christmas and Santa Claus, but not a single Baby Jesus. Neither did my own home in the first few years of our marriage which hits a milestone 35th anniversary today. (Yowza!)
That changed in the mid-80's (collecting the Nativity scenes, not the marriage) when I saw a large Nativity scene go on the local auction block. I wanted it on sight and for whatever reason - probably because it needed a paint job - I won it with my $2.00 bid. Of course hubby thought I was crazy, but that was nothing new. *grin*
|20+ yr old Wooden Nativity Scene - 4 Feet High
The above photo was taken about 6 yrs ago after 4 moves and 20 seasons of use - all without repainting it. We'd always meant to paint it, but never got around to it. Now, it's falling apart from all the flooding we've suffered these past few years. I miss it every time I look out my kitchen window and see the place it used to stand.
I liked that outdoor set so much, I bought a small wood and moss manger scene for inside. It contained rubbery vinyl pieces of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, 3 kings, a donkey and a resting cow. The kids always played with this set and I didn't mind because I wanted them to have a 'hands-on' approach to Jesus.
Up here in Canada instead of Black Friday, we have a Boxing Dale Sale on December 26th. It's our favourite day to shop. One year I was browsing a Boxing Day sale and saw this metallic on porcelain set. Yes, it looked tacky, but it appealed to me on some strange level and was only a couple dollars.
|4.5" Metallic Paint on Porcelain Nativity Set
Then followed a succession of sets bought at 'after Christmas' sales:
|4.5" Matte paint on Porcelain Nativity Set
|4" Clear Glass Nativity Set on a Mirror
|Left: 4.5" White Porcelain with Gold Trim
Right: One Piece Resin Nativity
Every December I set out the above Nativity sets in my east-facing kitchen window:
|The east-facing Kitchen Window at Draper's Acres.
About this time the stable in the kids' Nativity set fell apart and I noticed the only pieces left were Mary, Baby Jesus, 2 kings, and the donkey. At the same time, it seemed the pieces of the little set I'd placed in the bathroom moved every time I saw them, so this became the family play set. Yes, I said the family play set because I was just as wont to set it to my satisfaction as anyone else. It just seemed natural to look it over while washing and drying your hands, then shift a piece or two before your go. However, I must state emphatically that I wasn't the one to break the cow's horn off. Nope. Wasn't me.
|Entire family plays with this 2" mini Nativity set in bathroom.
A funny thing happened as we set out the Nativity sets each year...we decided we'd rather display them in our limited space than Santa decorations. And we always bought them on sale.
|Balsa wood stable and 3" resin figurines Nativity set.
|Large 6" heavy breakable resin? Nativity set.
|4" Solid Metal Nativity Set
|One piece 8" Musical Nativity Set
Along the way we found some to add to the Christmas tree...
|4" Musical Tree Ornament
|3" Metal 'cut-out' Nativity scene tree hanger ornament.
And then there was the one Jessie was going to buy for a friend except she accidently dropped it in the store and Baby Jesus' head broke off. *sigh*
|4" Porcelain 4 piece Nativity set w/broken Baby Jesus.
Finally is this large irridescent set we bought at a second-hand store. It's our only Nativity scene with camels. Big camels. This year, Nick asked for and received the honour of setting it up. You can't go downstairs without coming eye-to-eye with this wonderful display of Jesus' birth.
|6" high Porcelain Nativity set w/irridescent finish and gold trim on kings.
Overkill? Perhaps, although every Nativity set is different. And the way I see it, everywhere we look, we're reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.
As you can see, many of these Nativity scenes show the presence of the 3 kings/wisemen. Matthew 2:1 says, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem."
Further along, verses 9b-11 say, "...and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh." This is the main scripture concerning the arrival of the eastern kings and it doesn't say how old Jesus was at that time.
Since there is no other season to celebrate this bowing down of kings to our Lord while He walked on this earth, my family doesn't mind having them at Jesus' birth. The same goes for the 'Star of Bethlehem' because if the wisemen weren't present, the star wasn't either since it's only mentioned in scripture when the 3 kings/wisemen appear.
We don't mind compressing time and showcasing these events as if they happened together on one special night long ago. Look at all the extra bystanders in this Nativity set. Not only are there the 3 wisemen, but there's even a drummer. And Joseph has a staff like a shepherd's crook. Carpenters don't carry staffs. I'm not even sure if Joseph is beside Mary in the green or in the blue on the right.
|3" breakable resin? Nativity scene.
Does it really matter, or is the symbolism sufficient?
What pieces do you think a Nativity set should contain?