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vintage & contemporary nativity scenes

December 23

Growing up Byzantine Catholic, I went to church every Sunday, but as I grew older my active participation in practicing religion lessened, and I am now a C & E church goer (Christmas and Easter) along with OPS (a nifty acronym my brother coined – other people’s sacraments – weddings, christenings, 1st communions, funerals).  This is not to say I don’t have faith or believe in a higher power, I just feed this faith in other ways than going to church. One such way is displaying a nativity scene at Christmas – a very important part of my holiday decorating and celebration.

The nativity scene of my childhood also always played an important role in our family’s Christmas decor. This beautiful Italian made, resin figure, vintage display wasn’t vintage when my mom purchased it in the late ’60s. As a child I remember each of us (myself and my two brothers) were handed one of the three wise men to unwrap and set in place in the scene.

vintage nativity italy

vintage nativity italy 3

vintage nativity italy 2

Vintage and retro design appeals to me, and so is the case at the holidays. (Check out last year’s post on my favourite retro animated and stop-motion TV specials.) Therefore, when it came time to purchase a nativity scene for my own home, I knew I wanted a vintage crèche that would remind me of my childhood Christmases. I found this more petite scene at a church rummage sale a number of years ago for only $3.  Made by Art Plastics in British Hong Kong, the figures are affixed in place, so no ceremonial unwrapping, but I am heartened by the pink outfit little baby Jesus is wearing.

vintage nativity hong kong 1

vintage nativity hong kong 2

vintage nativity hong kong 3

Here are a number of other examples of beautiful vintage, and a few modern, nativity scenes. Merry Christmas everyone!

These paper fold-out crèches remind me of one I had as a child that I do believe is tucked away in a storage box somewhere (should dig that out!). Paper Model Kiosk / Crèchemania offer a number of  downloadable paper crèche designs as DIYs. (Shower of Roses; Santa Bears – eBay)

vintage paper nativity scene - shower of roses

vintage paper nativity scene - santa bears

Simplified and stylized Danish mid-century-modern nativity figurines. (Om Again VintageNeato Keen)

Danish Modern Nativity Figures - Om Again Vintage

Denmark Nativity Figures - Neato Keen

And for a couple of contemporary ‘nativity scenes’, these two wood block options pare down the interpretation of the holy scene to the basic cues, simply using shapes, form, and text. (Creche “Rebecca” by Daniel KneiszOliver Faber)

Rebecca Creche - Daniel Kneisz

minimal nativity scene - dwell

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5 2:46 pm

    I too grew up with a ceremonious Nativity Scene that was a very special part of our family Christmas. My husband gave me a very nice one as a gift a number of years ago but for some reason I do not display it!? I love the last 2 examples you have above. Hhmm – food for thought. Thank you.

  2. January 10 2:19 pm

    I love creches! We have a lovely porcelain one that I used to love playing with as a kid (no one told me that Mary and Joseph are not the same as Ken and Barbie!). One of my first major purchases in my new home is definitely going to be an heirloom-quality nativity scene; I just have to figure out what kind I like, first. And my nonbelieving fiance doesn’t really mind either way, so I’m free to pick it all out myself!

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