Cultural Diversity in the Nativity Scene

Cultural Diversity in the Nativity Scene January 6, 2024

What was it like for the shepherds to witness the glory of the heavenly choir only to find a silent night in the barn with a couple and their baby? Things were now calm after witnessing all that was bright. They might have asked themselves “Is this what the angels were singing about?”Sometimes we take the scene displayed in the Crèche for granted.

There’s Mary and Joseph kneeling before baby Jesus.   There are shepherds , some angels, some sheep and the 3 wise men and their camels. A cut and dry scene that we see every Christmas season. We see it over and over and sometimes miss the deeper meaning. The baby in the manger is God almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Sometimes we need to let our curiosity linger on the mystery and think of new ways to think about this all too familiar scene.

For example why didn’t the angel wait till Mary and Joseph were together before making the big announcement about Jesus? It could have saved some trouble and created less confusion. But as Mary and Joseph talked to one another they learned something new about the greatest mystery of history about to happen in their very midst. They not only learned from each other but they learned more of the plan from Elizabeth. They learned from Simeon and Anna in the temple. Every new bit of information they gathered they kept and pondered in their hearts.

That is how God wants it. He wants one person with one perspective to share with others and give them that perspective and in turn take from them their perspective. This is why we have 4 gospels telling the same story of Jesus. Each gospel, each revelation, every perspective is a piece of the puzzle and we share that good news with our brothers and sisters to form a complete picture of the providence of God.

A place where this is on full display (literally) is at the La Salette Creche Museum & Judea/Galilee Panorama in Attleboro Mass.

The National Shrine of our Lady of La Salette has been a spiritual, social, and human service home to thousands of people from all walks of life for over 60 years. The words “come near my children” are not only the words Mary spoke at La Salette in 1846, but are words we live by here at La Salette.

Our doors and grounds are open to all who need a place to quiet down, relax, and find the strength to begin again. Our weekly soup kitchen feeds about one hundred people a week and our various prayer groups give people direction and depth.  In addition to this, the many faith formation programs (youth retreats, seminars, workshops, guided retreats, days of prayer, etc.) have been a treasured source of spiritual renewal since the La Salette Retreat Center’s doors opened more than 50 years ago.

No matter who you are, we invite you to come and visit us.About the Shrine – National Shrine of Our Lady La Salette – Attleboro, MA (

One of the main attractions that brings visitors to the shrine is the huge big humongous lights display they have every Christmas. It brings long lines and many victors. The crèche museum opens along with the light display. It was opened in 2000 by La Salette Missionary Fr. Manuel Pereira (1929 – 2022) from the Azores. He wanted to share his love of Christmas and customs of his native home.

There are roughly 1561 Nativity Sets representing 78 countries displayed in the Museum. Their is also a collection of 90 Santons from Provence in France.

In 2021, a collection of pieces depicting the life and times of Judea and Galilee at the time of Jesus were donated to the Shrine. In 2023 this collection was arranged and displayed as a biblical panorama.

What makes the number of Nativity sets impressive and worthy of reflection is the cultural diversity of the  many different people who have one common faith of belief. The different manger scenes show how God is reflected personally and individually in each person, culture and country and yet telling the same story in a different way.

One way to take the mundane out of the Nativity scene is to look at it from the eyes of another believer baptized in the faith but not in our own backyard.  May the light of Epiphany help us all to see the Christmas Story from another perspective and culture.

Click on the video to learn more.

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