The first record of a nativity scene was 800 years ago by St. Francis of Assisi, out of concern that the real meaning of Christmas might be lost. His wasn't a wood or ceramic set, as many are today, but a living representation of the nativity, set ii a cave, using people and animals. It came with the Pope's blessing and was so popular that it spread throughout Christendom. Within 100 years, churches throughout Italy were expected to do the same. It wasn't long after that elaborate statues took their place, as well as the living nativities that continued for some time and that we still see in churches today.
|A living nativity in Bascara|
In my newest release, The Nativity Bride (a novella), a man carves an intricate nativity set of wood, but they've been made from just about everything that can be shaped, including ivory at one time. The use of nativity sets in the home became popular in the 19th Century, as it had spread from mostly Catholic churches and homes to the common person, spreading even to public lands and buildings.
|An 1800s Nativity in wood as depicted at faithinmemphis.com|
I found one interesting fact in the Wikipedia, as follows: A tradition in England, involved baking a mince pie in the shape of a manger to hold the Christ child until dinnertime when the pie was eaten. When the Puritans banned Christmas celebrations in the 17th century, they also passed specific legislation to outlaw such pies, calling them "Idolaterie in crust".
I was fascinated by some of the pictures I found of elaborate nativities over the years. This is one that really caught my attention. We certainly don't see things like this often!
A traditional Neapolitan Nativity scene of the 18th century, now on permanent display at the Roman church of Saints Cosmas & Damian
|A typical nativity you might see today|
Miralee Ferrell is a multi-published author of 12 books, both contemporary and historical, with a series of middle-grade girls' horse novels releasing in 2015. Two current releases, Dreaming on Daisies and The Nativity Bride, are part of a historical romance series.
The Nativity Bride--an ebook on all major ebook retailers, at .99 or under!
Deborah Summers has waited five years and prayed for Curt Warren to return to Goldendale, Washington, passing up another marriage proposal by believing in her first love. When tragedy finally brings him home, will a rift with his father drive him away again?