World Nativity Traditions





image preview

Creation Date



wood, paper, glass

Exhibition Label

Monasteries have been for centuries a source of inspiration and support of the nativity tradition. The custom of “Rocking the Baby,” Christmas carols such as “In Dulce Jubilo,” and crèches of all forms and sizes had their origin in monasteries of nuns. Even now, monasteries of women enrich the crèche tradition with artful and original creations. The very delicate artifact or display here stems from this century-old custom. Created in the late 1800s, it has a very definite feminine touch. Flowers and stars, little birds holding phylacteries with calligraphed prayers, tender lambs and enraptured parents hail the newborn king in his star-strewn shirt. The nativity grotto is carved into a mountain of papier-mâché. Its peaks and crevasses are sprinkled with glint and glitter glistening in colors of blue and gold. On the back of the crèche mountain, a yellow snake rears his head. Although entering into the darkest recesses of the human heart, and plunging it into the golden shimmer of his love, the Christ Child is not yet the sole master of this world. For now, the menacing head of the snake is never far.


Nativity scene made from paper and wood, and enclosed by a glass dome, created sometime in the late 1800s by monastic nuns of an unknown order. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit entitled "At The Manger" and held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


This material may be protected by U.S. (Title 17, U.S. Code) and/or international copyright law. The material is available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner(s) or heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.


crèches, nativity scenes, nativities, At the Manger, figurines, Jesus Christ