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This is a popular way Europeans set up their Nativity scenes

CRECHE,NATIVITY

Philippe Lissac | Godong

Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/16/19 - updated on 11/27/21

Tell the Christmas story to your children through your creche.

There’s no actual hard and fast rule for how your Nativity scene should be put together, but there is a way to organize your creche at home that can add more meaning and get younger family members involved in the Christmas story. It’s a method that’s very popular in European countries — all you need are the usual biblical figures, and a little patience.

We generally get very excited at pulling the baby Jesus out of the box of Christmas decorations. Put Him aside for now. What you need to start the scene are the initial characters involved at the time leading up to Jesus’ birth — Mary, Joseph, the obligatory donkey and perhaps a few curious sheep.

For those wanting to get into more details of the Christmas story, try adding an inn-keeper outside of the manger (this is where those Playmobil or Lego characters can come in handy). If you’re a stickler for detail you can add bunch of inn-keepers all with their arms folded in their refusal of offering shelter to the blessed couple.

The Nativity scene might be looking a little empty on Christmas Eve, but prepare your children for the big event by getting the baby Jesus ready, as well as an angel, and (of course) a star to place on top of the creche once Jesus is born. On Christmas morning, before the kids open their gifts, guide them to the manger and get them to put the figures in position. In many families, the youngest child gets to place Jesus in His crib.

To bring a little action to the scene you can start adding a few more animals, even a shepherd or two, but keep those Wise Men hidden for now. In fact, a fun activity to do with your kids is to place the Magi far from the manger, and each day after the birth of Jesus, have the Wise Men make their approach, so your children can bring them nearer. They can climb over cushions, to represent the mountains they’d have traveled and they’ve even been known to hitch a ride on a family pet for part of the journey! However, the Wise Men only get placed next to baby Jesus on the Epiphany — 13 days after his birth, on January 6.

Once all the figures have been placed in the manger scene you can get your family to gather around and say a little prayer to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s also fun to ask your child what gift they might have offered Jesus had they been alive all those centuries ago, and why. You might be surprised by their answers and even their generosity!

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