Christmas Days Arlington Vermont


The Story of the Nativity As one of the world's greatest religious leaders and most influential men of all time, the birth of Jesus is often referred to as the Nativity. While it is not known what time of year Jesus was actually born, the day of his birth was first celebrated on December 25th in the early 300's. This likely developed out of pagan rituals of an earlier period, which celebrated the coming of the Winter Solstice. The arrival of the solstice meant, of course, that the days would be gradually getting longer, and that the darkest period of the year was over. In Roman times, this called for honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture. These celebrations were often riotous, month-long parties. Since Christianity eventually found its way to Rome, and indeed made the city the center of the faith, it was natural to celebrate the most important event in the Christian calendar around the same time as the earlier rituals. The origins of the nativity scene also come to us from Italy. As early as the 4th century A.D., artists were making portrayals of the birth of Christ. Credit for popularizing the nativity as a focal point of Christmas generally goes to St. Francis of Assisi. In 1223, the Saint recreated the nativity scene in the village of Greccio, near Assisi, using people to act out the parts of the Holy Family, the Three Kings, and shepherds and angels. From the 13th century onwards, artists began carving or painting figures for decorative and devotional use. Such figures, initially lifesize or larger, were gradually reduced in scale to permit them to be displayed in homes. The first known "creche" - as the miniature reproductions of Christ's birth manger came to be known as - is believed to have been commissioned by the Dutchess of Amalfi in the 1560's.Over the next few centuries, this practice became widespread.. Aristocratic families often vied with each other to see who would come up with the most elaborate creche. A particular center of creche art was in Naples. Inspired by the interest of the monarchy in the 1730's, nativity sets became a serious artistic undertaking. Facial expressions became more life-like and natural. Clothing and accessories became more sophisticated. Eventually such scenes came to involve dozens of characters and animals. Italy has remained a center for nativity art ever since. The appeal of the nativity comes not only from the awe, wonderment and drama of Christ's birth, but from the democratic universality involving mighty kings and lowly shepherds. A nativity set is a wonderful gift idea for many occaisions, whether for a young child, an anniversary present, a wedding gift, or for Christmas. Frequently such a gift marks the beginning of a family tradition, wherein a new piece is added every year.

The Holy Family