Podcast #29- 153 Days to Go!

Podcast #29- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Bethlehem, O Little Town.

This week we dish a little on the week in review- mangers, crafts, and of course music.  Our new topic of discussion is focused on the song of the week- O Little Town of Bethlehem.  We talk a little about some of the recorded versions of this classic and look at the variety of forms.  Natalie has the epiphany that she doesn’t like a lot of Christmas songs, or does she?  We wrap up with a return to our craft ideas, which will be our focus next Monday.  Crafts?  Yup, only 5 months left of prep time!

Building a Nativity Set

With six months to go there are so many projects to get started!  All this talk lately about our bucket lists has me itching to get started on one of my items.  I decided today to start looking into what it would take to build my own nativity set.  What options and designs are out there?  What format would I like to use?  How difficult will it be?  Guess what? There are lots and lots of people out there with the same idea!  I am no more clearly planned out for this project than when I started my hunt.  I will need many more hours to review web sites, blogs, and photos.  Just surf the over 500 comments in response to the questions on building a nativity set found on ask.com to get a rough idea.  I thought I’d share just a few of the interesting finds I made today…

Woodworkers Nativity Sheet– This site gives a basic overview and a short list of links.  If you want to make an heirloom set from wood this is a nice starting point.

Crafty Nativity Set– This blog details a crafty based display a man created for his daughter.  This one looks like lots of fun to make and would be a great gift for Christmas lovers of all ages.

Build a Children’s Nativity Set– Another crafty creation.  This is a great idea to make with the children in your family.  It is very simple and can be modified to take on different looks.  Keeping it simple is a good idea when working with the kids.  I think this might be the one that I make with my nephew this fall!

Knitivity Book– No I didn’t make a typo, it really is called Knitivity.  This is a how-to guide on making a completely knit version of the manger scene.  This one I am including especially for Natalie- I sense a challenge forming with this one 🙂

The nativity build is my new quest!  I hope to have one attempt complete by the end of summer.  If you have any experience with this activity, please let me know.  I’ll need all the guidance and advice I can muster.

Do you prefer donkey, sheep, ox, or camels?

In your nativity scene of course!  All of those animals have made appearances in the birth recreation.  The most traditional are the donkey and the ox.  The ox said to represent patience and the donkey represents humility.   My favorite discovery is the inclusion in some scenes of an elephant.  Personally I love the sheep.  I have very fond memories of the sheep in our display while growing up.  They were hand-made and covered with real wool.  We stored them in a small tin to protect them from any possible danger from mice or other special visitors.  I also really love the sheep in one of my current sets- they’re so happy!! (thanks to my friend Shawn for the great gift)

Whether you call it a nativity, a crèche, or simply a manger it is the traditional representation of the birth of the baby Jesus.  The depiction of the small crib in the manger with the shepherds, animals, the magi, Mary, Joseph, angels, and of course the baby come from descriptions found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Matthew has the star of Bethlehem and the Magi.  Luke has the angel and the shepherds.  Throw it all together and you get our take on the events.  The nativity tradition has been around for nearly 800 years.  History tells us that St. Francis of Assisi began the nativity display with a living display in the year 1223.  The practice was wildly popular and spread throughout the western world.  There are many unique cultural and regional practices connected to nativity displays.  They are as different as are people.  Spend a little time searching the web and you can view elaborate or simple creations.  (Special bonus points to readers who know of the Catalonian tradition of the caganer)  Fisher Price has a Little People display, S’mores marshmallow people have one, the Vatican has one of the most recognized crèche scenes the world over.  Check out this great candle display at savingslifestyle.  I wonder if Lego has ever considered producing a display?

Taking off from the traditional nativity scene is the more expansive Christmas village display of the Christmas Putz.  These village displays can be quite elaborate and a true sense of pride for the owner.  Locally take advantage of the opportunity to see the great Putz display at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ.  This display is up each season during the Frederick Historic Houses of Worship tour, traditionally held the day after Christmas.  Frederick just celebrated its 25th tour- plan now to catch it in 2012. It is a great night in the downtown area and features architecture, fellowship, refreshments, and great music.

My church has a beautiful nativity scene.  The manger is front and center and the baby Jesus arrived on Christmas.  The shepherds are off to the left tending their flocks.  Slowly over the last weeks the wise men have been moving closer.  It will be exciting to see them arrive this weekend with the celebration of the feast of the Epiphany.  Tomorrow marks the final day of our 12 days of Christmas- Epiphany!!


Finally I wanted to show my newest nativity set.  I have about 9 of them and love to find unique and creative displays.  This one was a gift and I believe was discovered in the discount bin at a Wegman’s of all places!  Thanks Paula:)