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Creating a Nativity Scene

Creating a nativity scene is a wonderful tradition to start with your family, and recreate the Holy Family in your own home. Live nativity scenes are popular at school Christmas plays or pageants and at churches. First, you need to choose Mary and Joseph. The Baby Jesus could be a live baby, or a doll. Although a live baby makes the scene more realistic, pay attention to the weather conditions and how long the baby has to remain in the manger or Mary's arms.


Next, choose the rest of the nativity scene participants. You'll need shepherds and the three wise men. You can also add the innkeeper, angels, and animals such as ox, camels, donkeys and sheep (when creating a nativity scene we recommend using paper mache or plastic animals)! For nativity costumes, you can use adult bathrobes with sashes. Try to find velour in red or purple for the wise men, white for the angels, blue for Mary, and brown for Joseph and the shepherds. Make staffs for the shepherds from wood, or use old broomsticks, and adorn the wise men's robes with faux jewels.


Next, make head coverings for the wise men out of twisted scarves, or even towels. Shepherds cover their heads with a piece of sheet or a towel that falls down their shoulders and back. Mary should wear a long head covering that falls over her shoulders, made out of a thin sheet or towel. Make halos for the angels out of gold wire, pipe cleaner, or purchase plastic halos. Other props to use when creating a nativity scene are gifts for the wise men to hold, either metallic-wrapped boxes or bottles of perfume.


When you set up your nativity scene, have everyone take their proper place. Baby Jesus is in the manger, with Mary and Joseph standing beside him. The angels, shepherds and innkeeper can be arranged around the manger, looking at the baby, but the wise men are usually gazing from a short distance away. If creating a nativity scene that is truly accurate is important, have someone ready the Nativity story from the Bible, starting at Luke 3. Or, you can choose relevant Christmas carols to be performed by a choir, or the nativity scene players. For example, “What Child is This?” or “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” are both good choices. If there are lots of children present, even reading a kid's book about the birth of Jesus would be appropriate.


When assembling your nativity set, make sure you leave enough room for people to walk around comfortably and hear any of the players speaking. Part of creating a nativity set is designing the layout. You can put straw on the ground, or use white, fluffy craft material. The wooden cradle or manger should be in the centre of the scene. It's up to you if you want to have everyone at the nativity scene, or if you want to leave the manger empty until Christmas Day. However you arrange your nativity scene, make sure to pay attention to creating a meaningful set that will both entertain and educate people about the birth of Jesus.





This article was published on Sunday 11 October, 2009.

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