I’ve been on the hunt for a while for a more Biblically/culturally/ethnically accurate nativity scene. I love the tradition, the idea of making the story concrete especially for little ones, but the typical traditional nativity scene mixes up Bible stories (wise men with the shepherds), uses a stable, and almost universally features a white family, sometimes even a blonde Mary. What’s up with that? Seriously.
So, I’ve been on the hunt, both for more accurate historical information, and for an actual accurate nativity scene. Here’s some links if you’re interested in the same subject.
First up: Inn and Stable, or Guest Room and Family Room? “Surely a more authentic cultural understanding enhances the meaning of the story, rather than diminishing it. Jesus was rejected at His birth by Herod, but the Bethlehem shepherds welcomed Him with great joy, as did the common people in later years. The city of David was true to its own, and the village community provided for Him. He was born among them, in the natural setting of the birth of any village boy, surrounded by helping hands and encouraging women’s voices. For centuries Palestinian peasants have been born on the raised terraces of the one-room family homes. The birth of Jesus was no different. His incarnation was authentic. His birth most likely took place in the natural place for a peasant to be born—in a peasant home.”
Second: Forensic archaeology’s depiction of what typical Jewish men of Jesus’s day would’ve looked like. Plot twist: they weren’t white!
Finally, the only place I’ve been able to find non-white nativity scenes: Etsy! Here’s my favourite. Once I’ve saved up my pennies, I plan to ask for a custom scene with shepherds and wise men, and follow some of these ideas for making your scene reflect the Biblical story more accurately. Now the last thing to figure out: how to depict a one-room village home instead of a stable?
Also in the market for non-white Nativity storybooks for the boys. The Jesus Storybook Bible has darker-skinned characters but I’d love to find some specifically on Christmas.