Merry Christmas folks! Today we come to you with a festive themed blog on the Nativity. Yes, the Nativity, the Christian tradition of creating an artistic representation of the birth of Jesus.
Nativity scenes take it inspiration from the accounts of the birth of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Luke's narrative describes an angel announcing the birth of Jesus to shepherds who then visit the humble site where Jesus is found lying in a manger, a trough for cattle feed. Matthew's narrative tells of "wise men", or Magi, who follow a star to the house where Jesus dwelt, and indicates that the Magi found Jesus some time later, less than two years after his birth, rather than on the exact day. Matthew's account does not mention the angels and shepherds, while Luke's narrative is silent on the Magi and the star. The Magi and the angels are often displayed in a nativity scene with the Holy Family and the shepherds although there is no scriptural basis for their presence.
The first nativity scene is thought to have been created by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223 at Greccio, central Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving. The nativity scene created by Francis is described by Saint Bonaventure in his Life of Saint Francis of Assisi written around 1260. Staged in a cave near Greccio, Saint Francis' nativity scene was a living one with humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles. Pope Honorius III even gave his blessing to the exhibit.
Such re-enactments became hugely popular and spread throughout Christendom and within a hundred years every church in Italy was expected to have a nativity scene at Christmastime. Eventually, statues replaced human and animal participants, and static scenes grew to elaborate affairs with richly robed figurines placed in intricate landscape settings.
Different traditions of nativity scenes emerged in different countries. A tradition in England involved baking a mince pie in the shape of a manger which would hold the Christ child until dinnertime, when the pie was eaten. When the Puritans banned Christmas celebrations in the 17th century, they also passed specific legislation to outlaw such pies, calling them "Idolaterie in crust". We do not think they would have approved of our “Idolaterie bricks”.
Anyway, we wish you a merry Christmas filled with idolaterie bricks!
These scenes were built by James Pegrum; please be sure to follow and support us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
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