The history of the Christmas Nativity

It’s everybody’s favourite time of year! Soon we’ll all be putting up the tree, buying presents and going to lots of Christmas parties. For all your Christmas costumes and accessories, look no further as we’ve got everything you’ll need to dress up this season. Dressing up around Christmas always brings back memories of taking part in the school Nativity play. All the girls would want to be Mary, all the boys would want to be Joesph…and no one wanted to be the Donkey!

The Nativity is performed in schools around the world, but did you know the first performance took place in 1223? Saint Francis Assisi performed his midnight mass sermon on Christmas Eve in Italy in front of a life-size Nativity scene, complete with live animals. More formal plays took place in Christian worship throughout the middle ages across Europe.

Many countries celebrate the nativity in different ways, with Latin America incorporating apocryphal events, indigenous beliefs and satire into their retelling of the story. In Belgium, puppet theatres put on their own play, often even including the massacre of the innocents which happened following Jesus’ birth!

More recently, nativity plays have adapted and changed to include songs, more obscure animals and even celebrity characters. Do you prefer the traditions, or would you be happy to watch a nativity that features Elvis and a lobster?