Published: 12-12-2012, 05:06

Nativity Scene: Latin America

Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene: Origins

Early Nativity Scenes

Nativity Scene: Southern Europe

Nativity Scene: Central Europe

Nativity Scene: The United States

Spanish colonizers brought the Nativity scene with them to the Americas. The Nativity scene enjoys widespread popularity throughout Latin America today, where it is known as a nacimiento, pesebre, portale, or in Portuguese-speaking Brazil, as a presepio or lapinha. Latin American manger scenes range from simple representations of the Holy Family to elaborate depictions of the manger, village, and surrounding countryside. This countryside may host characters more likely to be found in rural South America than in ancient Judea, including women making tortillas, Indians selling tropical fruit, and peasants leading heavily laden burros. The figurines themselves range from relatively crude clay representations to delicate antique figurines passed down from previous generations. In Mexico many families set up their Nativity scenes on December 16, a date that corresponds with the beginning of the nine-day Christmas novena.

Many Latin American families place the Jesus figurine in his cradle on Christmas Eve. The Magi, on the other hand, inch forward daily towards the manger, arriving on January 6, Epiphany. Throughout Latin America Nativity scenes may also be found in churches and public squares. Many of these traditions can also be found throughout the American Southwest, a region of the United States with a long history of Spanish and Mexican settlement.