Hug for Polly
QUIZ & HISTORY
All photographs are from the December 2013
Ligonier, Pennsylvania, nativity display
at Heritage United Methodist Church
A NATIVITY SET QUIZ
(Answers are at the end of this post)
- How many nativity sets did the world’s largest display of nativity sets contain?
- How many Nativity sets were displayed at Heritage Church in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, on December 8, 2013?
- Who is credited with creating the first nativity scene?
- Catholic and Mediterranean Nativity scenes counteracted what other tradition?
- The oldest Nativity set in Italy, created in marble, is attributed to whom?
- What Sicilian King was known to be a passionate collector of nativity sets?
- How many square feet did the world’s largest physical nativity contain?
- How many living figures were in the nativity containing the most living figures?
Early art depicted the nativity scene in mosaics and ornately stained glass in Churches and Cathedrals across central Europe.
A nativity scene or crèche, also known as a manger scene, or crib, is the special exhibition,, particularly during the Christmas season, of art objects representing the scene of the birth of Jesus.* Nativities are created with static figures, living figures (persons or persons and animals), or a combination of the two. Characters are baby Jesus, his mother Mary, and Joseph. They can be accompanied by shepherds and sheep, angels, and farm animals.
The term “Nativity scene” is thought to have been used for the first time with regard to St Mary Major’s Basilica on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, known since the 7th century as “Sancta Maria ad praesepe” because according to tradition it was here the that the relics of the Cradle of Jesus were brought.**
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first living nativity in 1223. He intended to cultivate the worship of Christ* with a personification of the story and sentiment of the season.***
Scholars agree that the oldest Nativity set in Italy is a Nativity Scene in marble attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio around 1289. Although some of the figurines were broken or lost, this Nativity set can still be seen today in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome. Up to 1870 many Popes came here to celebrate Christmas Mass.**
During the next 300 years nativity scenes evolved from the use of live characters to the use of static materials, such as wood and ceramic. By 1563 nativity scenes represented popular piety. The Jesuit Religious Order took over the tradition almost monopolizing it: in their hands the Nativity sets served for didactic purposes to win back reformed Christians and evangelise in the recently discovered lands of the New World.**
The Nativity scene, Catholic and Mediterranean, counteracted the Christmas tree, Protestant and Nordic, started by Martin Luther.**
Many communities have displays of nativities during the Christmas season. The community of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, was concerned that they might not have a sufficient number of nativity sets for their annual display, but residents appeared with 90 sets. My husband Monte and I submitted three sets, one given to us by a close friend, Fran.
However, Oasis Church (USA) in Pembroke Pines, Florida, holds the Guinness World record for displaying the most nativity sets. Could the Ligonier Valley ever beat their Guinness World Record of 2150 sets?^
Not only did the Mexico City static nativity scene cover an area larger than 4 football fields, it had 5,000 figures portraying 57 Biblical passages related to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Organizers said that it took architects, engineers, designers and historians 70 days to create the project at a cost of $2 million.^^
Imagine…hundreds of elementary school children gathering for the purpose of surpassing a Guiness World Record, 743, for the most living figures in a nativity scene.^^^
On December 7, 2012, students from 24 schools gathered in South Gloucestershire on December 7, 2012, to the tune of 845 living participants, thereby breaking the previous record.
- St. Francis of Assisi
- The Christmas tree , Protestant and Nordic, started by Martin Luther
- Arnolfo di Cambio , around 1289
- King Charles III
- 215,000 —larger than 4 football fields
- 845 living figures, which included 845 students, a baby, a camel, a donkey and some goats.