Monday, January 3, 2011


I collect nativity scenes, and my favorite one is made up of santons, little saints.

 I display them in a box I collaged, on a mantelpiece.

In Provence, during the French revolution, churches were closed and people had to worship in secret and carry on their traditions as best they could.  Large community nativity scenes were banned.  Artists began to create tiny home creches which featured not only the traditional figures of the nativity- the Holy Family, the kings, and the shepherds- but also all of the characters and artisans of the provincial town, rich and poor: the mayor, the priest, the fisherman, the hunter, the cheesemaker and so on.

In every era, artists have imagined Christ's birth happening in their own time, among their own people.

Each little everyday saint is bringing a gift for the Christ child.  

This lady is bringing lavender, which she just cut with her little scythe.

This lady seems to be knitting Baby Jesus an athletic sock.

Some families use their santons to create elaborate landscapes using mosses, rocks, and plants.  I'd like to try that one day.

Here is a fisherman with a net standing next to my favorite saint, Saint Francis.  Saint Francis created the first creche in 1223, to remind people that the son of God was born in poverty.

What would you bring the Christ Child?  What would I?


Phyllis said...

That is a really neat set. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Unschoolers Rock the Campground said...

I collect Nativity Scenes, as well. Yours is lovely :-) Thanks for sharing.

Appleshoe said...

I was wondering what they were. They are lovely. Take care.

Nadja said...

Beautiful. Did you paint them yourself? I ask because the colors seem so "you"!

What would I bring Him? Hopefully a loving heart, a docile will and empty hands, that He might fill them.

Happy new year to you and yours!

Mrs. Cotton said...

I love this Beth! I also collect nativity sets and my favorite is our schleich, which has grown to MANY different, non-scale appropriate animals gathered around the baby Jesus...this year our newest member was a turkey. The best part is, the shepherd boy who distinctly looks like he is wearing some form of lederhosen! Very cute.

Beth said...

I did not paint the santons, Nadja. They are from France, terracotta, and I think they may be painted with gouache. Santons come in three sizes. Mine are the medium size. I also have a small scene with larger santons. A friend of mine has collected the tiny "cricket" size. Mrs. Bartos, I wish I could see your schleich nativity. love, Beth

Anonymous said...

Really love this. What a wonderful way to bring the reality of Christ birth into our lives and what a practical way to teach the kids how it would look if Christ had been born today. I think this will be a year long process of aquiring figurines to fill our nativity scene this year.

Beth said...

Dear All of the Joy, I am going to do some art about this very subject this, Beth

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, absolutly beautiful! Thanks ever so much for sharing this with with me. The over meaning and symbolism has brought tears to my eyes. Blessings, Belinda Mae

Christie said...

That is an amazing set. I too collect nativities. I adore this post and it's wonderful to ponder, what would i bring?