Before setting up a Christmas crib, some points should be clarified. This includes the question of the size, the space available, the religiousness of the family or whether the hut should have a fun educational effect for children. In some families the crib is often used as a Christmas decoration. Are there any instructions on how to properly place the figurines?
Table of contents
- Disposition of a Christmas crib
- Jesus in the center of attention
- Left side: Mary, the ox, the shepherd, and the sheep
- The right side: Joseph, the donkey, the three wise men
- The Nativity Stable
- One or more angels
- The comet star
- When and for how long the crib must be set up
- Final considerations and suggestions
Disposition of a Christmas crib
The scientific advisors of the crib museums discovered in their research that each crib figure had been assigned a specific place since the Middle Ages.
Jesus in the center of attention
The baby Jesus is always in the center and all the other characters are positioned around the crib. Care must be taken that the back of the child remains generally free, where there is no one, neither a person nor an animal.
Left side: Mary, the ox, the shepherd, and the sheep
Maria is sitting or kneeling to the right of the child. Seen by the spectator, she is on the left. Behind or next to her is the ox, which does not actually appear in Luke's Gospel but is considered a kosher animal and symbolizes the people of Israel and Christianity. From the left, i.e. from Mary's side, the shepherds approach with their sheep. They represent the believers who bring sacrificial animals, food and clothing.
The right side: Joseph, the donkey, the three wise men
Giuseppe is on the left side of the baby Jesus, that is, on the right if seen by the viewer. Next to Joseph is the donkey, also not mentioned in Luke's Gospel. The donkey is interpreted as an impure animal and symbolizes non-religious or even pagan people. Therefore, also the three wise men. Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar are the "wise men of the East" who donate gold, incense and myrrh. With youth, middle age and old age, they are on the one hand a symbol for the different stages of people's lives. On the other hand, their origins from Africa, Asia and Europe are associated with the three continents known at the time. Since Melchior represents the European continent and therefore the West, the designation "Three ... from the East" is actually not entirely correct.
The Nativity Stable
The stable serves as an improvised shelter and is mentioned in both the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. Nowhere else can Mary and Joseph find a place to stay. In this stable, according to the Christmas story, the baby Jesus is born. Since she has no other bed, Mary puts the baby in a manger full of hay.
A stable is usually used as a background to set up the Christmas crib. It does not matter if it is a nativity stable in alpine, classic or middle-eastern style. Its rustic appearance is important to make it clear that the family comes from a very poor environment and simply cannot afford other accommodation.
A Christmas nativity scene for children and the whole family
For many families with children, displaying a nativity scene is a regular Christmas tradition. We tell you what you should look for when choosing a child-friendly nativity scene and present the Fairy-Tale Nativity as a beautiful, age-appropriate Christmas nativity scene for children made of wood.
Why are ox and donkey in the nativity?
A crib without ox and donkey would be incomplete: the two animals, together with the main characters Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, simply belong to a traditional crib. But how did the ox and donkey, which are among the oldest Christian motifs, enter the stable? And what is the meaning of the other animals in the stable?
The Easter nativity: history and meaning
Cribs are not available only during the Christmas period. Have you ever heard of Easter cribs? In our article we explain why a carved nativity scene could help you understand the biblical history of Easter and where you can admire the nativity scenes.