Happy Sunday! Being Sunday, it feels like a fitting day to share pics of my Nativity scene.
I received a piece most years from my Godparents when I was little and love my set! ❤ The boys usually put it up now and always look forward to that.
The book I’m currently reading, Christmas: A Candid History, has kind of put a little damper on the whole nativity scene for me, though! Haha. Not really, but let me explain.
Apparently, according to history, there is not much evidence that the Nativity story actually occurred just as we’ve been taught over the years. Here is a very brief rundown of what I’ve learned so far:
- The first few centuries of Christianity didn’t even celebrate Christmas.
- Prior to Christianity in medieval times, “winter celebrations” (non-religious and/or related to medieval Roman/ Scandinavian beliefs) were very popular. People decorated with candles/ light and evergreens/ holly/ mistletoe as signs of warmth and life during the cold, dark winters.
- As Christianity spread, Easter was the main focus (death + resurrection themes). Eventually the Eastern/ Greek Christians started celebrating the Epiphany (or manifestation/ Jesus’ revelation to the world) but the main focus was on Jesus’ baptism, his miracles, etc. Slowly there was a little bit of interest in Jesus’ birth but it was very minor initially.
- There were two very brief mentions in old Roman records of Christ’s birth possibly being on December 25th, but it is thought that this very likely may be a combination of the Roman’s history of celebrating the Sun God‘s (Sol Invictus) birthday on Dec. 25th/ also the winter solstice at that time.
- When Constantine became the 1st Roman emperor to embrace Christianity (in the mid 300’s), he started spreading it and trying to convert others. It is believed that he used the traditions of these pagan/ non-Christian “winter celebrations” + the old Roman celebrations/ holidays and combined them with the new Christian beliefs- hence, Christmas. (It was easier to “sell” Christianity to the non-Christians if they could keep and combine many of their old, beloved traditions with these new beliefs).
Now for the crazy part:
- Only 2 of the 4 gospels even mention the nativity story! (only Matthew and Luke, and they kind of contradict each other on some things).
- There is practically no other mention of how the whole birth story went down in the Bible! The majority of what is commonly believed today is very much inferred/ speculation.
- Also, there is actually NO MENTION that there were animals present at his birth! All it says (in one single account) is that Mary laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn. That’s it! It could have been a storage shed or a bathhouse for all we know. There is mention that some shepherds visit Jesus, but why would they bring all their sheep with them out of the field?? And there is definitely no mention of a camel being present. LOL.
I have found this book fascinating and I love it. It’s an easy read and does a nice job of breaking it all down.
I, for one, do not care that the details might be a little fuzzy around the edges. 🙂 I will continue to imagine Mary in a blue hood, with baby Jesus wrapped up in swaddling clothes with a nice array of barn animals all around, chewing their hay and gazing lovingly at him. With some angels majestically floating around in the background somewhere. 🤣And a little drummer boy playing “rum- pum-pum-pum.”
I think it’s only natural that history and time will mesh and merge cultures and traditions. So, this all seems pretty understandable to me and doesn’t actually detract from my love for the holiday OR my affection for the religious significance of it all. In the end, to me (as a Christian), the important thing is that Jesus was born at all.
I am grateful for my vision insurance and that I finally found new glasses yesterday!
2 thoughts on “Fun facts”
Oh my! That’s all very interesting. I think I would like that book. As a child/younger person I really enjoyed the nativity story and all the cute little animals. But now that I live in the country surrounded by farm animals I think I am relieved to know that maybe Jesus wasn’t born in a barn after all. Cows and sheep (and presumably camels) are SMELLY!!!! 😂 Definitely would not want to be giving birth in a place like that….
This post reminds me of convos I have had with Phil. He is a major questioner and researcher and told me about how Christianity chose December for Christmas because of winter solstice. He would likely know all this because he is also a researcher. He does not take anything at face value or believe something because someone tells him it’s true. I am very different in that regard! So the truth behind the nativity and timing of Christmas is interesting to me but like you, I still love the traditions and find meaning in them. But it is interesting to learn the truth behind what happened and what has been embellished/made up!