The wonderful people from Bethlehem Carvings came to our parish today to sell their handcrafted items for the Christmas holiday. After hearing their story about the hardships they've had to endure, I just had to buy this. They come every year, but today I was just so moved, I couldn't resist getting this. I have always wanted a large Nativity scene. I love that the Baby Jesus comes out of the crib. I am so glad we bought it.
We gradually set up the scene throughout Advent. On the First Sunday of Advent, we set up the stable. Then on the Second Sunday of Advent, we add the animals.
On the Third Sunday of Advent, we set up the sheperds to watch over their flocks. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we set up the empty manger. On the morning of the 24th, we put Mary and Joseph in the stable. On Christmas morning, we place Baby Jesus in the manger.
Finally, on Christmas Day we start moving the three wise men towards the stable. Each day they get closer, arriving on the feast of the Epiphany.
Each year I purchase a nativity set for each of our children, which they will have as a keepsake. So far we have 5 nativity sets. We put one in every room of the house. The nativity set from the Holy Land will be placed by the fire place next to where the tree will be.
You can find these and other ideas from Celebrating the Faith in the Home: Advent and Christmas for the Christian Family , by Teresa Zepeda and Laurie Navar Gill.