Nativity scenes! Also known as crèches! Yep, yep, yep. Welcome to Maryann's Nativity Guidelines and Standards.
Nativity Guideline Standard #1: Jesus is out all the time. All the time. He doesn't just show up on Christmas Eve. Maybe if you were putting out a nativity the actual month before Jesus was born waaaay back in the last days of B.C., but otherwise, guess what? He's been born! Leave him out for all 25 days (or however long you celebrate advent). I've heard tell of families who hide Baby Jesus somewhere for the children to find on Christmas morning. No. No.
Nativity Guideline Standard #2: For me, if there's a lady, a guy, and a baby: it's a nativity scene. Maybe also a star above them, but I'm willing to excuse its absence. Personally, my preferred nativity scenes have the whole shebang: angels, shepherds, sheep, camels, wise men, donkeys, oxen, etc. In fact, my dream is to someday have a Noah's Ark Meets The Birth of Christ nativity scene made of Hagen Renaker animals (they also make a nativity scene, which would be the base for the whole thing). We're talking dolphins, puppies, giraffes, crabs, dragons, horses, and squirrels showing up at the manger. It's gonna be awesome--once I can afford it.
Nativity Guideline Standard #3: The finale rule is...THERE ARE NO RULES. Go nuts! You want a nativity made of butter? Do it! You want your Mary to be played by a Bratz doll? (Expect lots of people to throw up when they see it--like me, for instance, but) Go for it! Do you want it life-size, ant-sized, underwater, in space, on your mantle, on your shirt, on your bathroom shampoo shelf, surgically placed inside your left butt cheek? Feel free. I'm ecumenical.
Growing up we started with one nativity scene. It was Mexican ceramic, and looked a little like this, but with different coloring (more gray and blue):
There was also a donkey. But you know what I love about Mexican creches? They seem to always have female shepherds! Or at least when I was kid it looked like they were ladies, and I continue to believe that. Based on the photo above, I decide that anyone without a mustache is a lady, which means there was a wise woman! Apparently I have a 4th Nativity Guideline Standard: feminism!
Then my parents went to Mexico and got...another Mexican creche! It looked a little bit like this (but with more earth tones):
So for many years we put out two nativity scenes! Is that sacrilegious? If so, we don't care.
I do not have a nativity scene in my home. I have a few nativity ornaments, but I personally don't count those. Ok, Nativity Guideline Standard #5: my nativity must be on a low surface, preferably on a piece of fabric. From there, it should be reachable for endless rearranging and accidental knocking over.
It may come as no surprise that I am quite drawn to...Mexican creches! My sincere apologies if some of these are in fact from Peru or Guatemala or somewhere that is not Mexico. So really, I should say I'm into South and Central American Creches (which most of these are). But no matter the country of origin, two things are constant: I like lots of color and lots of detail (none of these photos are mine):
Oh wait, here's a few more!
And there's this one, which I thought was so cool I couldn't put it in a collage! Unfortunately I don't think it's for sale. And if it was I probably couldn't afford it.
Mermaid nativity! What? Love it. I think overall the collages feature scenes from Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, and Peru--for starters. I just love all the options! I might end up buying one of the cheaper ones for myself, and when I do I'll let you know which one!
Do you have a beloved nativity scene or creche? Or desired one?