Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Origin of the Nativity Scene By Debbie Lynne Costello PLUS GIVEAWAY! Ends 12/13

Debbie Lynne here today. Wow can you believe that there are only eighteen days until Christmas? Yikes! Where did the summer go? Well with Christmas right around the corner, have you ever wondered where and when the origin of the Nativity came from? I sure have. So I decided to do a little digging and here is what I found out. 

But first we will take a commercial break. :o)

I'm giving away a copy of A Home for my Heart and a Madam Alexander Christmas ornament.
Be sure to leave a comment and tell me what you learned new, if you knew this information, or just ask me a question to be entered to win.

 St. Francis of Assisi is credited with the very first nativity scene.

There seems to be two different stories why St. Francis devised the first Christmas crib (Nativity scene). One says St Francis, concerned that people were losing the real meaning of Christmas and were more interested in all the gift giving (sounds familiar doesn't it?), gained permission from the sovereign Pontiff to hold a live nativity in the town of Greccio, Italy.




The second story tells that St. Francis worried for all the would-be pilgrims that wanted to take a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. The trip was dangerous because the Holy Land was under the control of the Turks. So St. Francis, remembering his trip to Bethlehem, decided to recreate what he saw there. 





Regardless of his reason, St. Francis chose a cave on the mountainside in Greccio and gathered his crib, hay, ox and ass. There he gave a sermon. It is said he stood before the manger overwhelmed with love and filled with happiness. 


There are references to presepe ('Nativity scene' in Italian) in Rome in 1272 and in Naples in 1343. The practice spread to other parts of Europe throughout the later Middle Ages. The presepe consisted of three figures up to the sixteenth century – the babe in the crib and two animals who kept him warm. Mass was celebrated and these three figures were placed next to the altar. 





By the end of the Middle Ages the figures of Mary and Joseph were added, and gradually the nativity scene became more complex by adding shepherds, some moveable figures, and music. As the years passed the nativity evolved until it is what we have today. It's sad that our government wants to take the nativity scene from all public areas. Our country would do well to take from the nativity what St. Francis had originally planned.






A few fun Christmas facts:


The first use of the word Christmas was recorded in a book  from Saxon England in 1038. The words used were Cristes Maesses. However, it wasn't until the fourteenth century that it became one word, Christesmaesse (Christmas).

In A.D. 350, Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.


William the Conqueror was crowned on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey.

And one non-historical fact:
All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.



My Christmas gift to a lucky winner. Ends 12/13



55 comments:

  1. This info was really good. I had wondered how the date DEC. 25th. came about. And, I'm glad the spelling was changed. Strange that they didn't have a Mary and Joseph. Debbie, I did not know any of this. Thanks! I would love to win this prize package. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Hey Maxie! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks so much for coming by. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  2. Thank you for this post. I love coming here and learning new things. I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you so much.

    Smiles & blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Thank you for coming by, Cindy. I'm throwing your name in the hat for the giveaway. Good luck!

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  3. Absolutely neat history story
    God bless you
    Chris Granville
    granvilleATfrontiernetDOTnet

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    1. Hey Chris! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I just love learning new things about our past. Good luck!

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  4. great post, Debbie Lynne. Andrew and I are studying the Middle Ages in homeschool for global studies. I'll have him read your post for extra credit. Also, something you wrote reminded me--where you said the two animals kept the baby Jesus warm--I have a children's book with an old song apparently from the Middle Ages--Jesus our Brother Strong and Good. It describes the nativity and the illustrations of monks singing and of the creche scene are precious. Merry Christmas! No need to enter me. :)

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Kathy! How fun to be studying the Middle Ages! You know that is one of my favorite time periods. Thanks for sharing about the song. So much history, I love to hear things like this. Hope Andrew likes the post. If he doesn't you should give him 2 extra credits! LOL>

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  5. Thanks for such a wonderful , informative post..can't wait to share with my kids.

    Merry Christmas !

    Flwrs4ever at yahoo dot com

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    1. Awe, thank you, Kim. That is so sweet! Merry Christmas and good luck!

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  6. I love finding out historical facts and how they tie into our values and traditions of today. But then I love anything historical. Thanks for an interesting and informative post. Loved reading it!

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    1. Ah Sonja, we are kindred spirits! I love learning anything historical. Can't get enough of history. Thanks for coming by and good luck!

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  7. I had no idea that the nativity scene originated with St. Francis! This history major learned something new today! Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it. :) kosterbind at gmail dot com

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    1. LOL! Yay!!! I'm so glad you learned something! You made my day. :o) Good luck in the drawing!

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  8. Well Debbie I must say that all of this information was new to me. I learned a whole history lesson from this blog. Thanks for all your research. God bless and Merry Christmas ♥
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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    1. Hey Betti! So good to see you. I'm glad you learned something new! Merry Christmas to you!

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  9. St. Francis is my favorite Saint and I was blessed to be able to go to Assisi several years ago with my daughter. Hope you have a blessed Christmas season. tinaturpin@hotmail.com

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    1. Oh how fun, TIna! My hubby and I went to Assisi seven years ago. What a beautiful city. We got there very early and walked down the streets before a soul was there. And then about an hour later we had to weave through the streets they were so packed. Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

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  10. Thank you for all this information! I collect nativities but never knew how it got started.
    Linda Hutchins - lindajhutchins@gmail.com

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    1. Oh my goodness, Linda what a wonderful idea! I'd love to see pictures of them. Thanks so much for sharing and good luck!

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  11. I honestly didn't know any of these facts! So it's all new to me. I can't believe in 64 years I never thought of the origin of The Nativity even though it is always displayed in my home. Thank you for the information I truly enjoyed it. I love your gifts you are giving away .Thank you
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail.com

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    1. Thank you for coming by, Jackie. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. I loved researching it. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

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  12. I didn't know these origins. Thank you for sharing. I have many nativities out at Christmas and will think of this when I look at them. Have a blessed Christmas!

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    1. Merry Christmas, Karen. I have one large nativity and two small ones. I'm glad I was able to share some information you didn't know! Good luck.

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  13. I learned something new! Best thing of all is we remember the reason for the season! Glad you shared the history of it with us I enjoyed it. Would love to win!! Merry CHRISTmas
    Blessings
    Diana
    joeym11@frontier.com

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    1. Amen! St. Francis had that right, we need to keep our focus on what we are celebrating not on the celebration. Merry Christmas and good luck!

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  14. Great post! It's amazing what one can learn! I totally did not know that the nativity scene originated with St. Francis. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Blessings!
    Judy B
    judyjohn2004(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hey Judy. So glad you learned something. Thanks for coming by and good luck! Merry Christmas!

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  15. I didn't know any of this, Debbie Lynne! Thanks for sharing all this great history about the Nativity! I've always liked St. Francis and this gives me yet another reason to like him. :-)

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    1. I know, right! And do you know that there is more information on St. Francis than most from that time period? So if one was so inclined there is much more to learn about him. :o)

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  16. All of the information was new to me. Thanks for the post and for having the giveaway.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hello, Rose. Thanks for coming by. Good luck in the giveaway. Merry Christmas!

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  17. I love learning about the history of things we do. It was interesting to find out that the first nativity was in a cave, because I have always heard that is what stables were like in Bible times, not the wooden stables we always see in nativity scenes today. Thank you for the history lesson.

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    1. Hello Heather,
      I think modern times we tend to make things as we think they should be. Won't it be interesting when we are in heaven and none of this is a mystery? Thanks for coming by and good luck!

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  18. Most of this was new to me. I appreciate you sharing that with us.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. Hey Susan,

      Thanks for coming by. Good luck and Merry Christmas!

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  19. I learned a lot. Thanks. My favorite was the fact about adding Mary and Joseph at the end of the Middle Ages.
    Kathy
    kathy dot nye at comcast dot net

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    1. Hello Kathy,
      I found that so interesting, too. I'd have thought they'd have been there before the animals. So interesting! Thanks for coming by and good luck!

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  20. Thank you for a great post. So very interesting!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thank you for coming by, Melanie. Good luck in the drawing. Merry Christmas!

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  21. Thanks for this very informative post. It was pretty much all new to me!
    I really enjoyed Anne's other books so would love to win a copy of A Home for My Heart. The ornament looks lovely as well. Thanks for the chance!

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Pam. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and learned something from it! That is my goal that everyone will glean a tidbit of history! Good luck in the drawing and Merry Christmas!

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  22. This was all new to me--very interesting!

    chillirosen@hotmail.com

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    1. Hello Mallori,
      Thanks for coming by. I'm so glad you found the post interesting. Good luck!

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  23. I liked your post on the Nativity. We have one with the full set of people and animals that was made in ceramics by my sister-in-law. I have a collection of Nativity sets. One is carved out of thorn wood from Nigeria; one is out of blocks that I made with Christmas card figures for our children when they were small and they could re-arrange the blocks and review the nativity figures. Love to win your book. sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hey Sharon! Wow that nativity of blocks sounds so cool! What a wonderful learning experience for children and a way to share the birth of our savior! My mother made me a ceramic nativity that I cherish. A lot of work goes into those. YOur SIL must really love you. :o) The wooden nativity sounds beautiful. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

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  24. Very interesting. Wow, people don't change much, do they?

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    1. So true, Margo! The material world seems to have been around for a long time. Good luck!

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  25. I had no idea about when Dec. 25th was chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. I would have thought it was a much more modern thing...

    Pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. It's been around for a long time. Dates were popular even back in bible times. I guess that is something we held onto from bible times. Thanks for coming by, Patty. Good luck.

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  26. Very interesting post. Whatever, I may have heard before it needs to be re-learned. 364 gifts would be great; that would be about a year's worth in 12 days. I would love to win the prize as an additional gift to enjoy and share.
    missionlove04@hotmail.com

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Sarah. I couldn't believe it when I read that it would equal 364 gifts. I started to figure it out myself but my calculator kept messing up...or maybe it was me...LOL. So I decided to take their word for it. Good luck!

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  27. Wow! I don't think I knew any of this. :)
    It's fun to learn more about things like this that everybody takes for granted.

    admurphy(dot)musician(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Yay!!! So glad you learned something from my post Amanda! Good luck in the drawing.

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  28. AND THE WINNER IS....MALLORI NORRIS! CONGRATULATIONS! I'LL BE SENDING YOU AND EMAIL.

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