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I Love Nativity Sets

December 15th, 2009

I’m a big fan of nativity sets. I’ve always wanted to collect interesting ones from around the world. I only have 3 right now, but I’m sure I’ll acquire more throughout my lifetime. Mr Chiots and I bought our first nativity set on our honeymoon. We went to Seattle and while at Pike’s Place Market we saw this lovely little set made out of volcanic ash from Mt. Saint Helen’s.
It’s an interesting set not because it’s made out of volcanic ash, but because one of the characters is the little drummer boy!
The second nativity set I got a gift from “our pets” although I think Mr Chiots had a hand in it. Each year I’m given a few more pieces to this wonderful set. It lives atop our TV cabinet throughout the season with some lights behind it.
My newest nativity is a family set. My parents purchased this set in Cartagena, Colombia while we were there on vacation (since I grew up in Colombia that was the usual vacation destination). It’s a wonderfully interesting set, I think it was modeled after the art of the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. It’s handmade of clay and has such interesting metallic accents. I have fond memories of this always being out at home and I was thrilled when my mom gave it to me for Christmas last year.
My favorite pieces in this set are the animals, particularly the little fat sheep with their curls. I really love this one because it’s from the country I was born and raised in. It reminds me of Colombia when I look at it.
I always look for nativity sets when we’re traveling, they’re not your typical touristy item though, so they’re difficult to find. Especially interesting and unique ones. I don’t mind though, I don’t want to have 50 sets, just a few that I really love. There are some beautifully interesting nativity sets over at

Do you have a nativity displayed in your home during the holidays?

20 Comments to “I Love Nativity Sets”
  1. Jackie at Lilolu on December 15, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I too love nativity sets. Is the second one a Willowtree Nativity? The complete set is so beautiful.

    Reply to Jackie at Lilolu's comment

    • Susy on December 15, 2009 at 10:27 am

      Yes it is a Willowtree. I don’t have all the pieces, but I have limited space so I finished acquiring more.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • deedee on December 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm

        the willowtree is my favorite… i’ve wanted one forever and still don’t have it! i love the stars! the other 2 are awesome… i love the sheep too! and the drummer boy is a great idea- one of my fave christmas songs! too cute… i have 2 nativity sets, both belonged to my grandma. one i put out only at christmas and the other is in a curio cabinet all year.

        to deedee's comment

  2. Andres on December 15, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I love your nativity sets. We have a few that we collect, one large one that we get a few new pieces every now and then, and we have been collecting small single piece nativities, such as the ones carded out of gourds from Peru, and ones carved out of olive wood from Israel. And our latest addition was a Little People Nativity set for our children to play with. Which they are going to get the Little People “Three Kings” and “Drummer Boy” as their Three Kings gifts. I’ll have to post pics soon.
    .-= Andres´s last blog ..Garden Progress =-.

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  3. kristin @ going country on December 15, 2009 at 9:54 am

    No. Although my parents have one that is so much a family tradition, I wonder what’s going to happen to it when they’re no longer around. They got it very early in their marriage. The figures were all just white, meant to be painted by the buyer. So my mom painted all these figures in beautiful colors (she did a really good job), and my sister, who was probably around two, got to paint one of the camels, since it was all brown. Then my dad built the manger for the figures, which is probably about two feet across, thatching the roof and everything. But the best part is that all the figures are wrapped in “rags” that were our old clothes and costumes at some point, so every year when the nativity is unwrapped, there’s the Spanish dancer dress my sister and I both wore for Halloween, and the t-shirt my parents gave my grandparents that has a photo on it of my sister as a baby, and this one striped t-shirt my brother always wore as a toddler . . .

    Lots of memories.
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..Happy(?) Birthday =-.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on December 15, 2009 at 10:45 am

      That’s a great way to wrap it. Mine is wrapped in the same paper towels and shredded paper that it’s always been wrapped in. I noticed one of the pieces was chipped though, so I need to make little padded bags to protect them. I want to make sure they last for a long long time.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Annie on December 15, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I love nativity sets. I recently saw the annual exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City of the Neapolitan nativities. They are so beautiful. Since I’m part Italian and my grandparents’ families came from the Naples area of southern Italy, I am partial to them. My mom has a handmade creche manger that was given to her parents when they owned a luncheonette back in the day. A Quebecois man asked if he could sell Christmas trees on their property during the Christmas season and they said ok. As a gift, he made them the small manger. We carefully bring out this manger every year and set up our nativity on my mom’s fireplace mantel. I also have an antique Mexican nativity scene which is colorfully painted and in a box. I would love to collect more and will get around to that when I travel next!

    Reply to Annie's comment

    • Susy on December 15, 2009 at 3:37 pm

      That would be a great exhibit.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Daphne on December 15, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I love your Colombian set so much. They are just adorable.
    .-= Daphne´s last blog ..Seeds in Need of a Good Home =-.

    Reply to Daphne's comment

  6. risa b on December 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I think we have five or six. Currently we don’t have a tree, but a bunch of fir branches and holly strewn along the mantel, with lights, baubles and Suzie (a treetopper angel made by my mom from scraps when my dad was on strike for two rough years in the early Fifties), and the centerpiece is always one of the nativity sets — this year a pewter candleholder that has a nativity scene in its stained-glass front.

    One set that we have is a three-piece porcelain Mary, Joseph, Baby in Cradle set, very traditional, that is too big for the mantel rotation. It’s in our out box, looking for a home. Send me a flickr mail with a shipping address if you like, and it’s yours if no one else from local claims it.
    .-= risa b´s last blog ..Just like summer =-.

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  7. MAYBELLINE on December 15, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    My favorite is a small wooden scene that my son made when he was in elementry school.

    Another set I have is a clear, shiny lucite nativity. Very sparkley.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Fog Delay =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  8. Seren Dippity on December 15, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Even though I’m not very religious I have always been attracted to nativity scenes, mostly as an art form. I inherited a “clutter attractant” gene from my grandmother so I have to be careful about what I collect because if I’m not careful my collections cross the line.

    The thing that fascinates me about nativity scenes is the variety of styles and materials around the world used to represent the same scene. Everything from the plastic FisherPrice version to the rarest hand carved woods.

    Because of space restraints I’ve collected a few photos of nativity scenes and clippings from catalogs of scenes made of particularly unusual/rare materials or beauty.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

  9. Carol on December 15, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    We have 2 sets up . The big one in the living room is one tht my Auntand Uncle made in a ceramics class in the late 70s.

    In my room I have a 4 piece set that my great grandfather carved for me in 69.

    When I move and get settled I will get the set my grandparents bought just before they got married about 70 years ago.

    Reply to Carol's comment

  10. Frugal Trenches on December 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    What lovely lovely nativities, so very special!
    .-= Frugal Trenches´s last blog ..Thankful Tuesday! =-.

    Reply to Frugal Trenches's comment

  11. Morgan G on December 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Ooh! The set made of ash featuring the Drummer boy is fantastic. I hope your collection grows and grows!

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  12. Val on December 15, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I LOVE that second set. So beautiful. I love that whole set of figurines.

    I currently want this set:

    It is similar to those ones, but has a neat woodland theme that I love.

    I really think these small pieces of peoples spaces make the best posts. Your house feels so warm from all these beautiful pictures.
    .-= Val´s last blog ..Handcrafted Holiday ~ Paper Crane Ornaments =-.

    Reply to Val's comment

  13. the inadvertent farmer on December 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    My favorite of my many nativities is one I made in highschool ceramic class…I still remember sitting in school and painting each one till it was just right! I have to keep that one put up high so the kids don’t break it,

    Mt. St. Helens ash was big back in the 80’s around here in SW Washington! Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Cookie Tuesday =-.

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  16. Deanna on September 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I LOVE nativities. I went to a creche exhibit (over 1000 from over 100 countries) and fell hopelessly in love. The lady let me take pics – I took over 100 and made a photo album. I have pretty much been obsessed with them since. I currently have nine (I am very very picky because I too have ‘collector clutter’ problems), eight of which I put out at Christmas. One of them I keep out year round because I can’t bear to put it away. I am always searching for old ones from Europe (Eastern and Western) that are made out of wood. I actually got involved last year in a live nativity in my community and had a party on my front lawn with several families and young children – we Christmas caroled to the Live Nativity – it was beautiful – especially the kids faces. There are so many different interpretations of that single event around the world – what is really interesting is how artists all use the animals from their own culture in the scenes. Fascinating!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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