World Nativity Traditions





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The common look of Mexican nativity sets shows doll-like figures with pretty smiling faces and “antennae” on their heard. Are we speaking of a new generation of the little green men and women from Mars? Common as they may be, these figures are not the sole representatives of Mexico’s Christmas tradition. Mexico has one of the richest and most diverse crèche cultures in the world, ranging from simple straw cribs to the classical nativity set going back to the reign of emperor Maximilian. Back to our question. These are not antennae but splintered haloes, sometimes called effulgent halos. A halo designates the Christian saint. It is used in other religious traditions to identify gods and goddesses as well as emperors and important people. We know of splintered halos going back to the 2nd century ornating the head of Dionysius. Aside from references in the pre-Christian cultures of Latin America there are the two rays of light coming out of Moses' head identifying his closeness to God and his mission as leader of the people.


14 hand-painted clay figurines, depicted in a frequently used style in Mexico, in the Metepec tradition. This set is predominantly painted red, white, and black. The figures depicted include Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three kings, two shepherds, as well as bovines and sheep. The set is in excellent condition. Exhibition label originally written by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M. for exhibit entitled "Elisabeth's Nativity House: The van Mullekom Collection" held at Roesch Library, University of Dayton.


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


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