December 22, 2008

The season of waiting

A Catholic priest friend once told us that if there is only one piece of Christmas decoration we could put up, it should be the nativity scene. Owing to the fact that Christianity was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards, we call the nativity scene by the Spanish name for Bethlehem, where Jesus was born: the belen. This is the nativity scene in the Ateneo Church of the Gesù. Since Jesus hasn't been born yet, the crib is still empty. The image of the infant Jesus will only be installed during the Christmas Eve Mass. In contrast to the modern and simple architecture of the Gesù, the nativity scene is very Filipino—at least during the Spanish colonial period. The clothes of Mary and Joseph are typical of the era and so is the building reproduced on the screen. The parol (Christmas star) is made of capiz shell, used extensively in handcrafted, decorative Filipino products from jewelry to home accessories.

Nativity scene at the Ateneo Church of the Gesù

24 comments:

crittoria said...

This is a beautifully put together scene. I love to see all the different interpretations of the Nativity each year. My in-laws' church puts together a living Nativity each Christmas Eve with real animals and a baby.

Hyde DP said...

well we have a crib which we bring out at the beginning of December each year and have done for over 30 years now - it is now the ONE thing we do apart from displaying Xmas cards on the wall.

melanie said...

Elle est très belle cette idée de l'attente. Et je pense à tous ces couples qui voudraient bien un enfant...
Joyeux noêl Hilda !

George said...

What a beautiful Nativity scene -- I especially like that star. Thanks for the picture and the information.

Boise Diva said...

Our nativity scene is used by my young daughter as a playset. Baby Jesus has taken a ride in a slight ornament, and a small car, and she has promised to return him to his creche Christmas Eve.

Lois said...

This is lovely!

Knoxville Girl said...

That's really interesting to see that the infant shows up according to actual time; over here, the infant is in the display as soon as it's put up during Advent.

PJ said...

We were having the nativity as decoration discussion last night and I don't care for it - but I think the idea of waiting until Christmas for baby Jesus to appear makes the difference. I like that.

PAK said...

Interesting. In 'local' churches the nativity scene is still 'closed' for the publicity.

marley said...

Really interesting post! I like the nativity scene :)

USelaine said...

I really like the idea of waiting until Christmas Eve to put the infant in place! I've never heard of that before, but it promotes the sense of anticipation in the story. And thanks for the historical information on the imagery too.

hadv said...

So... Merry Christmas!!! :D

the donG said...

i agree! sometimes people focus in santa claus and forget the importance of the nativity.

it's good that you point it here which i too will be posting on christmas day.

advance merry christmas!

Marc said...

Interesting picture with background story.

JM said...

Interesting explanation about the belen. Here we call it 'presépio'. I also consider this as the only item that has to do with the true spirit of Christmas, all the rest can be very pretty but it is pure comsumption 'carnival'...

angela said...

That is such a lovely scene. How big are the figures?

Thank you for your sweet words yesterday and congrats on your own award :))

Steve Buser said...

It would be interesting if someone would display nativity scenes... that is, belens, from all over the world.

Saretta said...

We have both a tree and a nativity scene in our home at Christmas. Our nativity scene sometimes takes up a whole room with the whole scene, running water, etc. It's the more authentic tradition in Italy as well.

tr3nta said...

I which you a Merry Xmas and a Happy new Year... and keep on with your great blog.

babooshka said...

When see this scene is does make you think that it too commercial and yes it's the onky decoration needed. Thought provoking

Knoxville Girl said...

also, hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, Hilda!

Ken Mac said...

will you take another shot when baby Jesus arrives? We have a similar nativity scene on Houston. Think I will add to my blog, thanks for the idea Hilda!

Kris said...

Apologies for a cut and paste, but there was no way on Earth I would be able to make it around the whole globe to wish everybody a Merry Christmas otherwise. I’m not Santa, you know!

Anyway, from myself, Henry and Ezra, have a Merry Christmas/Winter Solstice/Hanukkah/Festivus and a happy New Year!

I hope that all of your holiday photos turn out to be triumphs and all your soufflés rise accordingly.

mkhansen said...

Mary and Joseph truly look expectant here. I also like the fact that the baby Jesus doesn't arrive until Christmas. At our home we have an advent nativity -- the children add a figure to the scene each day beginning Dec. 1, and the baby is the last. It is a good counterweight to all the glitz.

Merry Christmas, Hilda!