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Nativity And Advent Symbols of Waiting

Nativities scenes are one of the most recognizable symbols of Christmas. As November opens the signs of the season start showing up with maybe the most visible are the nativity sets and outlines the manager scenes that are the backdrop to the Christmas story, the story of the birth of Christ.

Its is a tradition that as Advent starts not only do you use your advent wreath, but the Nativity scene is incorporated into the family. The nativity scene is set up with familiar farm scene, the holy family the empty manger, and the missing Magi . During the first week of advent often there is a discussion in churches and families about the empty manager and how that ties to the preparatory season of Advent where we as Christians and Catholics should be preparing are hearts to act as that manager. Often families add straw to the manager for each deed they do though the day. This is a great way to teach children what the season of advent means and how it relates to them.

To tell a child that this is a penitential season would be meaningless but to focus on the Manager scene and how we should be preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord. As the children grow, they will learn that the manager of the Nativity scene has the Baby Jesus appear on Christmas Eve showing the promise of God fulfilled in the birth of His Son.  As children and adults remember to use the four weeks of Advent to prepare for the arrival of Jesus, their heart, will grow softer, making a much softer place for Jesus, just as extra hay in the manger makes an softer bed for Christ.

Many will see their parish’s setting up the manger scenes as well.  These are usually large ornate displays with life size members of the holy family. Often the Magi are placed far away and move a little closer each day to symbolize the trip of the kings to come see the Christ child. The large church Nativity scenes are often also set up in conjunction with the Church’s Advent wreath.

There are many similarities of the symbol of the empty manger and the advent wreath.  They are both an outward expression of preparing the way for Christ. The empty Nativity scene does serve as a reminder of the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath walks us through our salvation, God’s promises and the penitential nature. As we walk our Advent journey each year these symbols remind us of salvation and the promise of things to come.

The Nativity has a long history and a perfect complement to the Season of advent that runs all the way though the arrival of the Wiseman. Children can relate to the Nativity scene and preparing a way for our Lord on Christmas day.  It is a great way to help children learn and add to the Christmas traditions families observe. The use of the Nativity and the Advent wreath has been in use for centuries.


This article was published on Tuesday 11 November, 2008.

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