The Nativity Scene
The crib, representing the manger in which the baby Jesus Christ was laid after his birth in a stable in Bethlehem, has become a favourite Christmas decoration for Christian. For centuries it has been used to bring the Christmas story to life.
Francis of Assisi, who was renowned for his love of animals, instituted the custom of the nativity scene. After receiving permission from the Pope, he built the first one during the Christmas of 1224 in a cave outside the Italian town of Greccio. It was not the modern type of crib or creche (its alternate name from the old French) nor was it a crafted model- but a live scene.
A friend of Francis, John Velita, supplied him with a manger straw and animals. It was a novel and eye-catching way to celebrate the memory of the child who was born in Bethlehem. When people gathered to view the spectacle, Francis stood in front of the manager and recited the Gospel relating to the scene; then he delivered a sermon.
Francis of Assisi's idea certainly caught the public's imagination. Nativity scenes become a part of commemorating the Christmas story, they are created and displayed in Catholic homes and churches, kin some places the nativity scenes are built on the church courtyard.
Traditional nativity scene includes Joseph, Mother Mary, Baby Jesus in a crib and the shepherds who visited along with an ox, sheep and the camel. Others includes the three wise men who have travelled far and wide to visit the new born baby.
Today, there are different ways of portraying the nativity scenes using different kinds of materials, from the finest marble to wood, to cardboard materials used by primary students to depict and show how they understand this wonderful story of the birth of Jesus Christ.