Over 2000 years ago, Mary lived in Nazareth. She was to marry a carpenter named Joseph. She was unaware of her importance until an Angel appeared before her. She was to have God's baby. Mary and Joseph married and made a long journey to Bethlehem. When they arrived, there was no room in the inn but there was room for them in a stable. Jesus was born that night. Shepherds were in a field nearby tending their flocks. An angel appeared to them with great news. The angel told them that the Son of God was born today in Bethlehem. He said the baby is wrapped in a cloth, lying in a manger. The shepherds found the baby and were filled with great joy. They told everyone about the angel and the baby and how this was God's Son, sent as our Savior.
That same night, wise men were traveling on their camels when they noticed a bright star in the sky. They knew then that the King of the Jews had been born. The wise men went to King Herod, ruler of Israel to see if he knew where to find this special baby. When Herod heard this, he grew worried and sent everyone out to find Jesus. The wise men followed the bright star that led them to a manger in Bethlehem. It is said that they kneeled and worshiped the baby and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. That night, each of the wise men had the same dream. They were warned by an angel not to go back to King Herod and tell him where to find the baby. Kind Herod, unable to find Jesus, ordered every child under two years old to be slaughtered. This decree took the life of his own son.
Mary and Joseph were instructed by angels to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt. King Herod never found the baby.
St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers. Today, nativity scenes are re-enacted throughout the Christmas holidays on church lawns and at holiday festivals. Many families have their own nativity scenes displayed in their homes symbolizing the importance of this special "eve".
I grew up with a nativity set similar to the one above. My brother and I would race to set up the scene of the nativity each Christmas as the tree went up. It sat under the tree and was a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of Christ.
So with all the hustle and bustle, if you celebrate Christmas, take time to celebrate the true meaning.
For those of you that celebrate your own holiday(s) and traditions and meanings that are different than mine, I wish you a wonderful joyous holiday season too.