Updated: Nov 13
The season of Advent is the special time set aside when Christians around the world prepare for the coming of Jesus. One of my favorite ways to mark the passage of Advent in my home is with a Nativity Set. Nativity Sets serve as a powerful visual reminder that we are drawing ever closer to the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In order to get the most out of you Nativity Set, set it up in a prominent place in your home so that it is visible throughout Advent. If you have children, make sure you use a set that is very kid friendly so that your children can help set it up and move the figures throughout Advent. Also, make sure that you allow them to play with it throughout Advent. Children learn so much when they are able to interact with play.
Most people set their scene up all at once and we had as well until I discovered that traditionally, the nativity figures are set up in a certain way so that it tells the nativity story. Every day, figures are slowly moved to create a sense of anticipation. Mary, Joseph, the donkey and the animals are placed around the empty manger. The shepherds and sheep are further away and the Wise Men are the farthest away. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is lovingly added to the manger and the shepherds and sheep gather around. The Wise Men continue to move closer and closer until they finally arrive on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. I love this way of setting up our Nativity Set. It is so much more fun for the family!
Historical Note - The first nativity scene is credited to Saint Francis of Assisi. On Christmas Eve in 1223, he had the idea to re-create the Nativity Scene using real people and animals. The idea of a nativity scene in one’s own town quickly spread throughout Christendom. Shortly after that, people began constructing large nativity scenes in their homes. As the years passed, the nativity scenes got smaller and now fit on a table or shelf.
If you'd like to celebrate Advent in your home with a nativity set, here is a round-up of my favorite ones.
Global Crafts Nativity Set $39.99
Fair Trade. Handmade in Kenya with banana leaves. Women in Kenya are taught the art of recycling dried banana fiber to make a sustainable living.
This is the one that we own and I love it. It is indestructible and has such a simple beauty. Hand Carved Olive Wood Children's 12-piece Nativity Set made in the Holy Land.
Fair trade and made of punched tin in Haiti.
A cute mini nativity set. The whole nativity scene measures 11¾'' L x 1¼'' W x 7'' H. The set comes with a wooden house with 11 different figures.
Global Crafts Handmade Natural Soapstone Nativity Set $59.99
Each sculpture is artfully hand-carved from a single piece of Kisii soapstone, found only in the hills of southwestern Kenya. Mining the soapstone from surface hills is a labor-intensive process, using little to no machinery. Laborers works with shovels, picks, axes and machetes to carve out large soapstone chucks, which are then carved into beautiful art.
Metal Nativity Set 6 Pieces $39.99
This nativity scene is handcrafted from cold-rolled steel in Utah.
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