World Nativity Traditions





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Notice the empty manger. The royal court has convened. Everybody is in attendance, only the baby is missing. One of the many Christmas traditions sees the manger scene as a work in progress. Figures are added as Advent progresses. The first figure to be placed in the pre-arranged landscape is the storyteller announcing future events. The last figure is the Christ Child. It will be brought in joyful procession to the manger and laid down on straw at the tune and dance of “In dulce Jubilo.” This nativity set takes up the idea that life is expectation. The backdrop signals future joy, a slice of paradise restored. In the foreground everything is ready as mechanical figures are ready when on hold. Straight off the assembly line, one might say, these figures are waiting for the breath of life that will put flesh on their skeletons and movement in their limbs. They are waiting not for Godot but for the Christ Child.


Fourteen pieces and one staff made of unfinished wood. Figures depicted include Mary, Joseph (made of five pieces of loose wood), angel, manger, three kings, three camels, two shepherds, two sheep, and a stable silhouette. 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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