Saturday, November 30, 2013

Creating a Little Town of Bethlehem under Our Christmas Tree

One of our special family holiday traditions is setting up and displaying a little nativity scene under our Christmas tree. When I was a little girl, I logged in hours playing with our nativity scene, and now our family's own little manger sees a lot of activity in the days leading up to Christmas. 
When I lived in Italy, I loved the intricate nativity scenes, and especially the Festa della Befana in Rome's Piazza Navona, where you could find all the nativity figurines you could ever wish for. 
Rome's Festa della Befana Christmas Festival in Piazza Navona
I also had the chance to visit Bethlehem in person: I treasure my visits to the Church of the Nativity and the Milk Grotto, where Mary nursed Jesus (and some say that Jesus may have actually been born in this or a similar grotto). 
Bethlehem's Milk Grotto
Manger scenes in Italy typically include the entire village of Bethlehem. And so each year, it is a tradition in our little family to add two or three new figurines to our nativity scene. Our little town of Bethlehem grows a little bit each year. 

A traditional Italian nativity scene 

I love Fontanini figurines, which were initially recommended by my pal, Valency. Made of polymer, the kids can play with them and I don't have to worry about them breaking. Last year, we added Mary's donkey....

 and a family of cows. 

This year we will add a village well with a working bucket! (I know the kids will love this!)

and a village campfire, to commemorate all the camping we did it 2013.

I also love that the Fontanini Baby Jesus is separate from his crib. He doesn't arrive on our Christmas nativity scene until his birthday on Christmas morning (this is actually another common Italian Christmas tradition).
I order our Fontanini sets from because of their excellent customer service. Give them a phone call and a live person will answer and happily answer any questions you might have and take your order. 

We'll be setting up our nativity scene this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent. 

 Does your family have any Christmas traditions centered around the nativity scene?

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