As Christmas approaches, many will be decorating their homes with more than just trees and lights. For Christians, a common tradition is to put a nativity scene somewhere on display. A nativity scene uses figurines and a stable to depict the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. In addition to Jesus, other biblical figures included in the scene are Mary, Joseph, and the three kings. This tradition has been practiced since the thirteenth century. According to National Public Radio, a new version of the nativity scene has been growing in popularity among Christians all over the world. The change made concerns the infant depiction of Jesus, and how "correct" his birth is conveyed.
New nativity scenes include placing the infant Jesus inside a small plastic bag and filling it with water in order to represent the mother's amniotic fluid. This was first seen on public display in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Pope Francis was quoted saying "We just want to get all of the details right. In this day and age it is important to get all of the details correct; I for one do not want to disrespect our infant Lord and Savior by putting him in human form before he's even of this world. Some have suggested having a pregnant figurine of Mary to be placed up until Christmas, but pregnant people are gross and we do not want to destroy the beauty of the Blessed Mother."
Some students at the University of Dayton, a Catholic instituation in Southwestern Ohio, shared their family practices on nativity scenes, "We always hid the baby Jesus figurine," Sophomore international business major Leopold Hochs said, "then we'd place him in the manger on Christmas morning. That seemed accurate enough for me but I understand not all families do that."
Some families do leave the figurine on display through the entire Christmas season as senior Journalism major Franklin Hernandez explains: "This is our Lord, we want to see him on display as much as possible. We never needed to build up anticipation. Even though it may not be correct, we were always excited."
Roesch library, the university of Dayton's main campus library, has the world's largest collection of nativity scenes from all across the world and has had its staff work extra hours to update each of the thousands of Jesus figurines. Head of library coordination Angela Berner expressed her joy in the update: "I've set up each of these scenes and cleaned every figurine in this library for the past fifty years. I know each piece like the back of my hand. Some change of pace is welcome in my book."
Although the updated scene was not reflected in the university's annual Christmas on Campus live nativity scene, it is likely to be reflected next year. "We'd like to take it one step further and have a live birth," University of Dayton president Dan Curran said, "we'll plan to relocate somebody from Miami valley hospital that morning and set up shop. No espadrilles, no C-sections, just a good old fashioned stable birth surrounded by small children and animals."