This article explores the nativity scenes of ethnic communities in the Diocese of Parramatta.
Nativity scenes are a great way to bring Christ to the centre of your celebration of Christmas and building them is a fun activity with your family.
St Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first Nativity Scene for this reason: put Christ, not commercialism, at the centre of Christmas.
The spread of nativity scenes across the cultures of the world is a sign of Christ’s reign across the entire world. All festivities and external manifestations of Christmas point to this powerful truth.
This stanza from a former poet laureate of the United Kingdom communicates the power of the Incarnation, an event that permanently changed the entire world and is never overshadowed by the celebrations of Christmas:
“No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.”
– John Betjeman, ‘Christmas’
There are many diverse African nativity scenes, befitting the massive continent.
The nativity scene below is hand carved.
Read more about the African Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta:
Africa Day Mass bridges gap
This depiction contains a traditional Chinese elm tree with a curved trunk.
Traditional robes are worn from the Han dynasty.
Read more about the Chinese Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta:
Chinese Community Welcomes New Year
Croatian nativity scenes are often elaborate and contain many animals.
Read more about the Croatian Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta:
Croatian Catholic Centre, Blacktown.
German nativity scenes are sometimes made from paper.
In the south, Austria and Tyrol, they are often hand cut from wood.
Beautiful nativity scenes are often found at German Christmas Markets.
Read more about the German Chaplaincy in the Diocese of Parramatta:
Catholic Outlook, December 2016
Hungarian creches began as a theatrical performance.
A tradition emerged of carrying statues in procession, which lead to the current creches.
The village of Vörs in Hungary contains the largest Church nativity scene in Europe, at 5o square metres.
Read more about the Hungarian Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta:
Hands of Healing, Catholic Outlook
This is an ornate Neapolitan nativity scene, or ‘presepe’.
Naples is famous for its elaborate nativity scenes, which developed under the patronage of Charles III, King of Naples.
This is a live scene from Malta, or ‘presepju’.
A live Maltese Nativity scene. Source: Wikimedia Commons
This Filipino nativity scene, or ‘belen’ is made from bamboo and other local materials.
The Belenismo Festival in Tarlac, Philippines is one of the largest nativity scene festivals in the world.
Read more about the Filipino Community of the Diocese of Parramatta:
Nuncio receives a warm welcome from Filipino Catholic community
Polish nativity scenes have intricate designs.
They often depict Christ’s manger under the shelter of a Cathedral.
Read more about the Polish Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta:
The Church is a social and faith driven hub, Catholic Outlook
Slovenians also get into the nativity scene sprit.
Many families make their own with live moss.