Here is a small sampling of the over 250 nativities on display this year:
The nativities come from all corners of the world. Over 40 countries are represented.
The nativities are loaned by community members throughout SE Minnesota. (See Frequently Asked Questions if you would like to share your nativity.)
There is a wide range of sizes. Some are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, others have figures 14 inches tall.
The nativities are made of all kinds of materials: wood, stone, clay, porcelain, glass, resin, cloth, metal, and even gourds. They are created with all forms of artistry: molding, carving, cutting, and laser etching.
Some nativities are sets, others are one piece. Paintings, wall-hangings, and other formats are also shown.
The nativities are shared from the private collections of individuals. Many are one-of-a-kind, including original art and carvings.
The translation of nativity in other languages is often familiar: manger or crib (English), presepio (Italian), creche (French), krubba (Swedish), and krippe (German). They all find their root in the latin word for manger, cripia.
Nativities usually include the Christ child, baby Jesus, his Mother Mary, and the father Joseph. The manger may be implied, a simple representation of a building or an elaborate model of a manger for animals. It is common to find a cow, donkey, and several sheep, but one also sometimes finds a horse, chickens, and other domestic animals. One or more shepherds are often placed with the sheep, and often one or more angels to herald the news to the shepherds. Wise men, or Magi, are frequently featured along with a camel for travel. The Magi are often exactly three, with individual gifts of gold, frankinsense and myrrh.
Some nativities go far beyond these traditional pieces, with characters added by popular story lines, such as a drummer boy. Some sets show entire village of tradesmen and folk activites. Children will see, if they look, a rabbit in one manger.