The season of Advent is the special time set aside where Christians around the world prepare for the coming of Jesus. One of my favorite ways to mark the passage of Advent is with a Nativity Scene. Over the years, I have been given sets from all over the world and I absolutely love each one. We have one made from olive wood from Bethlehem and one made from tin. My husband brought back some from his mission trips to Africa and Guatemala. I love them all. They are all so unique and they remind me that we are all part of the body of Christ no matter where we live.
Did you know that the first nativity scene is credited to Saint Francis of Assisi? He had it created for Christmas Eve in 1223 and they used real people and animals. The idea of a nativity scene in one’s own town quickly spread throughout Christendom. Shortly thereafter, people began constructing large nativity scenes in their homes. As the years have passed, the nativity scenes have gotten smaller and now fit on a table or shelf.
We always set up our scene all at once until I discovered that traditionally, the nativity figures are set up in a certain way. Like an Advent Calendar, figures are slowly added to the scene to create a sense of anticipation. As Christmas Day approaches, Mary, Joseph, and the donkey move closer to the manger where the other animals are waiting. The shepherds and sheep also move closer until they finally arrive on Christmas Eve when baby Jesus is added to the manger. The Wise Men are kept the farthest away and move closer and closer until they finally arrive at the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.
Here is a round-up of some really sweet Nativity Sets that I found.
Global Crafts Nativity Set Was $49.99 now on sale for $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.
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 $39.95 + there's a $2 off coupon!
This nativity scene is handcrafted from cold-rolled steel in Utah.