Cultural Variations on Christmas Nativity Scenes

It's common among Christians to include a nativity scene in their Christmas decorations, depicting Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Many also include the shepherds, the three wise men, and/or an angel, along with camels and livestock. While the basics are there, thesenativity sets aren't the same all over the world. In some Latin American countries, it's not unusual to see devils included in a nativity scene, representing the demons who tried to keep the shepherds from reaching the Christ child. In Scandinavia, various trolls and folklore fairies find their way into the scene, depending on the local lore. Amish nativity scenes are presented without faces, for traditional religious reasons. Read about all these at Atlas Obscura.

Not included in the article (but it should have been) are the caganers of Catalonia in Spain. No one knows how that tradition started.

(Image source: Courtesy The Marian Library, University of Dayton)

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