Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When it comes to Christmas decorations I like to mix the secular with the sacred/religious….probably… because I am more interested in creating an artistic ambiance that is pleasing to the eye than I am about espousing a particular religious or philosophical statement about Christmas. So, my Christmas decorations include everything from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to Gnomes, Viking Ships, Celtic designs, Cardinals, and Nativity scenes. Don’t ask about how Gnomes fit into Christmas, I’m including a separate blog entry on them later…. I have been interested in collecting Nativities ever since my in-laws gave my wife and I a beautiful hand carved Nativity Scene from Israel early in our marriage. While I currently only own two Nativity Scenes I do have numerous Christmas Cards which depict the birth of Jesus….

Prior to writing this blog entry on Nativity Scenes I decided to do a little research on the origins of the Nativity and here are a few things I learned about the history of the Nativity. According to tradition, and there appears to be historical evidence for this particular tradition, Saint Francis of Assisi introduced the first Nativity Scene in the 12th Century. Apparently, he put together a life size straw filled manger scene which was set outside the monastery between a real live ox and donkey and this manger scene was used to enhance the mass during Christmas. Over the years, this tradition spread across Europe and by the 16th century real life size Nativity Scenes adorned with gold and jewels were displayed in front of medieval churches and temples across Europe. By the 17th century famous artists in Italy were commissioned to carve miniature Nativity scenes out of wood, ivory, and stone….Originally, Nativity’s were called crèche which is a French word which means crib….and…it is believed the tradition of the Nativity was first brought to the U.S. to the town of Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1741.
I believe the essence of Christmas ought to be about love and hope and Nativity scenes can be a potential important reminder that despite all the problems in the world there is always hope... and... God helps us all to not lose faith in hope and love and help us to restore hope to the world by helping us love one another in our own unique way with the talents God has given us all...

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