The Nativity Scene is probably the most iconic Christian tradition linked to Christmastime.
It represents the Holy Family, composed of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus in the crib, with the ox and the donkey on the back.
Larger nativity sets, instead, may include different figures, such as the shepherds with their sheep, the three Magi Kings, also known as the Three Wise Men, bringing their gifts to celebrate the Birth of Jesus and the Angel who announced the birth of the Savior to the people around the Nativity cave, in Bethlehem.
Furthermore, apart from making real other traditions such as the Advent Calendar, arranging a Nativity set while Christmas is approaching, could be such a nice and funny activity you can do with your children, to strengthen your family relationship and spend time together.
Do you already have a proper Nativity Scene to celebrate the birth of the Messiah?
If you still don’t, discover how to arrange a special nativity set and be sure you won’t forget any of the most important characters!
1. Find space for your Nativity Set
First of all, choose an area of your home where to display the Christmas Nativity Scene. It should be a bright, warm and comfy place. It can be right underneath the Christmas Tree or on a dedicated table or shelf: the only important thing is that it will guarantee you to display as many figurines as you want to include. In case you want to include some buildings as well, find such a big space and keep in mind to display the stable in the center of the display.
2. Choose first where to display the Holy Family statues
The most important characters of the Nativity are the ones who represent the Holy Family: the Blessed Mother Mary, Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus in the crib. Since they are the main characters of the Nativity set, it is really important you decide first where to display their figurines, in order to know how much extra space you will have for the other figurines and later think about which characters to include. Other very important “characters” you really can’t miss are the ox and the donkey, usually displayed while sitting on the back of the Holy Family.
Both animals have been an indispensable part of pictorial representations of the Birth of Jesus since early Christianity (medieval frescoes, church windows, etc.).
However, these animals that witnessed the Birth of Jesus do not appear in the Bible. In the Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of Christmas, there is only mention of a crib stable and a manger in which the Infant Jesus is placed, but no animals are mentioned.
Since the Holy Family arrived at the stable only on the night of the 24 December, do not display the Holy Family in the stable until that day. Put them, instead, along the way, far from the manger and bring them closer to it, day by day. Your kids will feel impatient everyday to move forward with the Holy Family figurines.
In this case, do not display the Infant Jesus’ figure until 25 December, since that is the day when He was born. Just keep it out of the Nativity Scene.
If you do not have enough space at home for a Nativity Scene composed of many pieces, and you are thinking about only including the three main characters of the manger scene, you may be interested in this made in Italy Nativity Scene, completely realized in resin and authentic golden-colored fabric clothing.
This kind of Nativity Scene with fabric clothing is quite popular all over the world and recalls the world-famous Neapolitan Nativities, protected by UNESCO under their program for Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
3. At the beginning, display the Three Wise Men figurines away from the manger
After choosing where to display the manger, it is time to expose the secondary most important characters of the Nativity Scene: the Three Magi Kings.
Just remember that, according to the Bible, they arrived at the stable only on 6 January, bringing to Jesus three important gifts: gold, incense and myrrh, to celebrate the Birth of the Messiah.
For this reason, just be sure that the Three Wise Men figures would be displayed quite far away from the Nativity stable.
You can let your children bring the statues of the Magi Kings closer to the stable day by day, to mark their approaching to the manger scene.
On 5 January, at night, put the Magi Kings figures right in front of the Infant Jesus and get ready to celebrate the Epiphany the day after.
Since 6 January Jesus received some gifts from the Three Kings, you may consider giving something special to your children too, that may let them feel more confident with faith.
Here are a couple of Catholic gift ideas for kids to celebrate Christ and introduce children to Christian prayer.
4. Choose the secondary characters of the Nativity
Once you have done with the Holy Family and the Three Wise Men figures, let your children decide who else to put in the Nativity scene.
Even the secondary characters, apart from the angel, took part in the Nativity right after the Birth of Jesus. For this reason, just bring them closer to the manger as soon as the 25 December approaches. For the days before Christmas, display them far from the stable and move them forward, day by day.
Many of our Nativity scene sets already include secondary characters linked to the Holy Night, such as the shepherd with the sheep and the angel who announced them about the Birth of the Savior.
The Nativity figure set below, realized in hand-painted resin, counts with 11 pieces and is available in four different sizes. Choose the one that better suits your own space at home, and display the Nativity figures as explained before.
5. Decorate your Christmas Nativity Scene with lights
Jesus Christ the Messiah is hope, love and, of course, light in Christians’ life.
A well-done handmade nativity set cannot miss the lights which illuminate all the Nativity characters. In order to let it be bright at night, you may hang some Christmas lights around your Nativity Scene and a starry night background. The lights will make it visible even at night and will give your house a special Christmas atmosphere, to share with your family during the cold nights of Advent.