The Origins of the Christmas Crib
The representation of the scene of the nativity is a tradition that is almost a thousand years old. In the year 1223 St Francis decided to celebrate the feast of Christmas in a new way. His aim was to help people to better call to mind the poor surroundings in which Jesus was born and to make the wondrous event of the incarnation more real to the people of the time. In the town of Greccio, with the help of a local landowner, a nativity scene was set up with a stable, animals and straw. People came at night from the town with candles and torches to attend holy Mass by the crib and seeing the scene, be reminded of God's love for us in sending his only son to be born in the poverty of a manger.
Saint Bonaventure, Francis's biographer, said of the scene, "Many brothers and good people came at Francis's bidding, and during the night the weather also was beautiful. Many lights were kindled, songs and hymns were sung with great solemnity so that the whole wood echoed with the sound, and the man of God stood by the manger, filled with the utmost joy, and shedding tears of devotion and compassion. By his order the manger had been so arranged that Mass was celebrated on it, and blessed Francis ... sang the gospel and preached to the people on the Nativity of Christ our King, and whenever he pronounced His name with infinite tenderness he called Him the 'little Babe of Bethlehem'".
Make Your Own
Having a Christmas Crib in your home is a lovely way to remind us all of the true meaning of the Nativity. You can buy all kinds of cribs online from small complete sets to large figures. Here are some ways you can create your own:
- Make a nativity scene from an old christmas card. Simply cut out the picture from the card and add a piece of card to the back to it will stand up. Bring the scene to life by lighting a candle nearby.
- Why not draw the crib scene? Here is a great example with easy to follow steps on youtube.
- If you have some nativity figures - then why not make a crib using old pieces of wood or a box? The crib outside St Nicholas church has been made from an old pallet!