History of Nativity Sets

The history of nativity set and scenes can be traced back to at least St. Francis time. He popularized the creche by using an ox, and ass, and a feeding trough. In most English-speaking areas they are known as Nativities or Nativity Scenes. These sets can be very simple with only a few items and figures, or they can be very elaborate and have the star, angels, and many types of animals.

A nativity set generally has 3 different art forms represented in each scene. Each has a building of some sort, made from lumber or stone. This can look more like an alpine stable, a stable for animals, or stone ruins. Others have Oriental-style structures that resemble domes. Each type has evolved from the culture of the particular land that originated it.

The second art form is that of the characters represented. These may be carved out of wood, made from papier-mache, or clay, or sewn and fashioned from cloth, even hand-painted on bits of old cardboard. Each type has a 'character' all its own.

The third type of art form represented is found in the scene painted in the nativity. This may be done very elaborately or may be very gross and lack detail.

The many elements of the nativity set has taken on different meanings over the centuries.
For example of this is the star which guides the Three Kings and often symbolizes that God is present at the birth of Jesus. You can also find that some nativity sets leave out the star and replace it with angels as if they had a role lead to mankind.
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