Sunday, December 25, 2022

Nativity Collection

I have no quilty content today, but I have often said I would do a post of my Nativities--so this is it. I know many people have more sets than I, but I have put some limits on myself as to what I would include in my collection. With no boundaries, a collection can quickly get out of hand under my control (or the lack thereof).

My decision was to collect Nativities from other lands--preferably handcrafted. And even more specific is that I wanted them to be from countries my family or friends have visited. Some of them have been gifted to me by my family and friends when returning from travels. Others have been located through online stores, or through a bookstore here that carries a large selection of Nativities (many of them being international) every year at Christmas time. In fact, of the ones I have purchased, most came from this store on the after Christmas sales.

So without further ado--my International Nativities:

Cambodia--When my brother was a missionary in Thailand many years ago, they had to leave the country every 6 months or so to get their visa renewed. Cambodia and Viet Nam were the places he would have to go. This is quilled paper and was gifted to me by my younger daughter.

Mexico--My husband and I got together on a failed tour to Mexico with a performing group. We had paid for the trip, but didn't get farther than a border town--and never got our money back.

   Left: Bolivia--Some neighbors were missionaries there. Right: Peru--just couldn't resist this.
And apparently I really can't resist the Peruvian Nativities, because I now have three more! The one below, on the left, was added after Christmas in 2022, and the one on the right was added from the Nativity Market in 2023. My friend Lori, at Humble Quilts blog, has been to Peru a couple of times (that I know of), so Lori, you get to be my justification for buying Peruvian nativities. And I thank you, because I love them. :)
The following nativity, also from Peru, was purchased after Christmas in 2023. Sorry about the reflection from the glass shelf. You aren't seeing double.

Both of the nativities above are from Argentina--oldest son was a missionary near Buenos Aires. Left: He brought these figures home with him--(figures only. Stable was found at a local thrift store.)  They are very small. Even smaller is the wooden nativity on the right. I bought this in a local shop that specializes in "Fair Trade" items. In addition to these two, for Christmas in 2023 I received the nativity below, on the left, from a neighbor who recently returned from Argentina with her husband, where they were providing leadership for a mission there for three years. 
And on the right, above, is the one from New Zealand that my older sister brought me after she visited our cousin that was living there. Both of these above are carved from woods native to the respective countries. I'll have to try and find out what they are.

  Left: Germany--my father and oldest daughter have been there, but I bought this Nativity in an antique mall.  Right: Austria--oldest daughter bought this for me when doing a semester abroad. Both of these nativities are beautifully hand carved.   They are each 4" to 4.5" tall.     

Above: Both from Kenya and made of soapstone. Silky smooth to the touch. I don't know anyone who has been there--I just can't resist the feel of the stone. It is therapeutic. Sometimes I just have to pet these. :)

Two more stone nativities added after my original post, the one on the left is springstone, from Zimbabwe. I purchased it after Christmas in 2022. Much of the carving is textured, so I don't pet this one. The one on the right is another one from Kenya made of soapstone. I purchased this in November 2023 at the Nativity Market. The roof of the dwelling comes off, and you can place the figures inside, but then it is too dark to see their vivid colors and designs.

Philippines: This was purchased at 90% off on an after Christmas sale a few years ago. It was hand carved. I have a sister-in-law whose parents (whom I knew before I knew their daughter, because they were friends with my parents) served as missionaries in the Philippines, and several friends in our community have served there over the years, as well. The proportions of this one are interesting. Mary and the donkey seem on a larger scale than Joseph and the baby. And as of August 2023, my older sister and her husband are serving as missionaries in the Philippines.

 Left: Iceland--Our sons got me this wool Nativity on a Spring break trip. Right: Mozambique--made of sandalwood. Smells so good, I couldn't resist it. Sometimes I just have to scratch and sniff. :)

Left: Ecuador--I don't know of anyone who has been there. But my fascination with miniatures won out--this is carved from a Tagua nut, and it is tiny. Right: Hawaii--My younger daughter brought this back to me after their family visited Hawaii. Though the gourd shaped holder is actually taller than the Tagua nut structure, the figures inside are very small.

Thailand--my brother was a missionary there for 2 years. Most of the nativities I see from Thailand are made of mixed metals with beads, and sometimes wood elements are added. I have a real weakness for them, judging by the number of nativities I have from this country.
Another from Thailand below. It was the first from Thailand that I purchased in 2020.
I am also a big fan of the nativity ornaments from Thailand. The variety is endless, but I only have my favorite two, shown below. Notice the cow, sheep and donkey dangling from the bottom of the one on the right.

I have two of this puzzle-style nativity. the one on the right is from India--One of my nieces and her hubby lived there for a while after they were married. On the left is one from Columbia. I bought this at the Nativity Market in November of 2023. It is much smaller than the one from India. Don't know anyone who has been to Columbia, but it was my birthday outing, so I gave myself a free pass.

Ghana--A dear friend had this carved for me while she and her husband were on a combination Sabbatical and mission trip there.

Left: Guatemala--my parents and younger sister took a trip there.  But I ordered this online.  Right: Brazil--Our youngest son brought this from his mission on the southern tip of Brazil. The figures are from banana leaves and the shelter is corrugated cardboard.

Left: Brazil--Also brought home by our youngest son from his mission. Notice how the figures nest. Joseph is quite tall. Right: Ireland--Hubby was a missionary there before we were married, and he returned twice with a performing group. This is Waterford Crystal. The company now outsources these, but I was able to find this set on eBay with the original Waterford hallmarks.

Israel--I don't know the exact origin, but it is made from olive wood and was a gift from a dear blog friend. My parents and my brother have visited the Holy Land. I used to think I would someday, too, but now I wonder.

This was added to the collection in 2022. Also of olive wood, this was crafted in Bethlehem from olive wood harvested in Jerusalem. Apparently they must prune the olive trees every two years so they will bear fruit, and the prunings are used in many crafts such as this. I love the gorgeous grain of the olive wood. 

The last of the International Nativities is my German Pyramid. This is a family favorite. Whenever we gather during the Christmas season, the candles are lit and we enjoy the four, candle-powered, rotating scenes. Again, my father and my oldest daughter have each traveled to Germany, and I have  German heritage on my father's side.

I have five or six other non-international Nativities, and of those I will just share this one. Many of you will recognize it as the Willow Tree collection. It was my first Nativity set that I hadn't painted myself (I used to paint a lot of ceramics).

This is what Christmas is about to me. I love the season of remembering and celebrating the love of our Savior. Whatever your Christmas celebration is like--if you celebrate, I hope it is a day of peace and joy for you (and I am praying for all of those in the path of extreme weather). From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!
Janet O.
(Yes, hubby and I put up all those lights ourselves every year--there are more on the side you can't see here. I keep waiting for him to say we are getting too old, but until then, I will continue to bask in the glow.) 

Oh, almost forgot! A few years ago I posted a link to a version of the song "Mary, Did You Know?" Recently I came across a YouTube of Voctave performing the song, with the lead vocals by the man who wrote the lyric to the song. The vocals in this are so pure, and the joy on the face of Mark Lowry is really touching. Give it a look.


  1. I loved seeing all your nativities! Merry Christmas!

  2. Lovely post! The Nativities are so diverse. Your lights in the darkness are delightful. And yes, limiting or not re: collections...this is why my Noah's Ark has more than thirty pairs of creatures, some brought by friends from afar. But as Noah said, when the rains came, Who's counting.

  3. I love seeing your nativity sets! The one from Bethlehem is so special! Merry Christmas!

  4. Merry Christmas and a blessed Advent, Janet. That is such a beautiful song :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing your wonderful nativity collection. I love the diverse artistic compositions and the fact that they're associated with friends and relatives travel to other areas of the world.

  6. This was a fun tour, Janet. You have some really beautiful Nativities. The olive wood ones have a richness about them but my favorite is the one with the figures that nest with Joseph so tall. And the German pyramid, of course. It's amazing how the candles can cause movement.
    A dozen or more years ago for 5 or 6 years, our stake used to have a Nativity display. They invited members to share their displays then opened the exhibit to the community. Yours would have been welcomed and enjoyed, I'm sure.
    Your home looks beautiful with the Christmas lights. I love that they are white(ish). They make me think of the Light of the World.
    Merry Christmas to you!

  7. What a delightful collection. Thanks for sharing. I have a very small collection of kitch 1950s plastic nativities. Your house looks so cosy with all its lights. I hope your Christmas Day was a wonderful and blessed one.

  8. Thank you for sharing your collection. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  9. Your nativities are wondrous! Great stories and memories behind many of them. I have several sets as well, most with a story too! Thank you for sharing.....just beautiful! Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour!

  10. I loved seeing your collection and looked at each of the photos for a long time! It's amazing how each one is so different! I was touched by the creativity of the artists and dedication to their craft in so many different mediums. Do you have any quilted Nativiities? Merry Christmas Janet!

  11. Wow, what a marvelous and diverse collection of nativities. This was such a fun post to read, so much to see. I love the little woolen one. Your home looks amazing with all the white lights!

  12. Beautiful Nativity sets. Lol, on losing restraint. I love all of mine but some stayed in their boxes this year. If the family would come while they're out, I would let them choose maybe, then I could part with a few. I am a Collecter. The only ones I don't like is an inflatable or Molded plastic ones that go outdoors. They are Tacky. Happy Boxing Day. I'm boxing up gifts for our family gathering. And the various things to decorate. Hope everyone is able to enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜Š

  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful naivities... I loved them!! I look forward to putting mine out each Christmas... my favorite is a hand carved one from Israel.

  14. Those are all so beautiful! And your lights are amazing...well done! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :0)

  15. What a delightful assortment of nativities. There is such diversity. I feel the same way about soapstone. I just got my first nativity made out of soapstone this year and like you. . . I would often pick it up just to pet it. It is so soothing.
    Thanks you so much for your thoughtful gift of homemade soap. You are the best.

  16. What precious treasures you have! Happy New Year and all the best in 2023!

  17. Your collection is beautiful Janet, the wood grain in the wooden ones is beautiful, I bet the soap stone is lovely to touch. Your house looks amazing, long may you continue to put up the lights!!

  18. (Little Penpen) what a nice collection of nativities!! I listened to Mary Lowry on YouTube— beautiful! That’s one of my favorite songs, too!

  19. What a wonderful & amazing collection Janet!!! Just awesome. They are all so different too! I love the photo of your house all lit up. I adore Christmas lights - would enjoy them all year round if I had my way. Merry Christmas Janet xx

  20. There is such variety in the styles and features--so interesting and beautiful! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  21. Oh my! What a beautiful collection of nativities, Janet. Thank you for sharing them all with us! Your house glows with all those white lights! Happy New Year!

  22. Oh how wonderful! What a treasured collection. Thank you for sharing the phots and especially the stories of where they came from. Your house is aglow with the feeling of Christmas. So beautiful! I wish you and Gregg a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

  23. Hi Janet. Your collection is beautiful! My daughter also collects, many international. She is very easy to buy Christmas gifts for. LOL. This year I found a beautiful Scottish wool nativity on Etsy, I think you would love it. The website is Highland Felts. I still love following your blog but have lost your email ๐Ÿ™ so haven’t stayed in touch. Best wishes for a peaceful and joyful 2023! Barb Stommel

  24. Such a treat to get a tour of your nativities. I, too, love the soapstone figures from Kenya. I put my nativities in the living room this year but I'm going to have to bring them back to the dining area where I spend more time next year. Thanks for sharing.

  25. what a collection.............and I love your house.......I should do lights again next year.........I do love them.............


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