World Nativity Traditions





J. White


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Creation Date

20th century



Exhibition Label

Black nativities have a special, almost mesmerizing beauty, not least because of the bright festiveness and rich harmony of colors and forms. African American nativities present an added feature of more social nature. They tell us that Jesus Christ belongs to all and each. He represents all of us without regard to race, gender, culture, and religion. Christmas has a universal message. Jesus Christ could have been black, red, white, or yellow. He made himself Jewish to fit into the vast concert of cultures and races. This was one of his concessions to humanness. To be truly human he had to be of particular race and gender. He had to be local. His words and deeds, however, have universal meaning because they bear the stamp of his divinity and the promise of eternity for all. White nativities with snow and white sheep are only one and so a necessarily limited way of expressing our joy of Christmas. This African American nativity set is a precious reminder of the universality of redemption. We receive Christ fully and truly only if we bring our diverse ways to the manger.


African American nativity set featuring eight figures made of painted resin depicting Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, three kings, one angel, and a shepherd boy. Exhibition label written by Father Johann G. Roten, S.M. originally for exhibition entitled "African Symphony" 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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