Is it inappropriate to have a nativity scene displayed now?


Every day, I drive past a Catholic Church, and since the Second Sunday of Advent, the nativity scene with Jesus in the crib has been on display. Isn’t it a little inappropriate to display the nativity with baby Jesus in the crib before Christmas? The Church is supposed to set an example that we are not yet celebrating the coming of Christ; we are anticipating in joyful hope for His coming.


Yes, but the infant should not be on the crib.


I’ve never heard of this. The parish I grew up in had an absolutely HUGE nativity scene inside (it took up the whole choir section almost), though sadly I believe they’ve scaled it down over the last few years. I can’t say for sure but I’ve never known it not to have baby Jesus in the crib. My family has always had one out before Christmas as well and we’ve never at any time not had baby Jesus in the crib. :shrug:


Many families and parishes customarily do not place the figure of the infant in the manger until Christmas but many others do include it earlier. I myself would not use the word “inappropriate” or suggest that it is failure to set a good example. Not doing so can be seen as following more closely the spirit of Advent. Following this line of thought, some do not even display the nativity scene until right before Christmas eve, On the other hand, displaying the nativity scene earlier can be viewed as helping to convey what it is that we celebrate annually, which so often is overshadowed by all the secular trapping of the day, and which would be further reinforced by including the figure of the infant Jesus.

I must confess though that I was momentarily taken aback earlier this week when I drove by the local Catholic hospital and saw that the nativity scene on the lawn included the three wise men. Then I figure it was more a case of a memo from administration to maintenance saying “time again to set up the nativity” and not so much a theological statement.


Mary & Jesus in our parish’s outdoor nativity set are a one piece design so there is no option to not have Jesus there from the get-go.


A nativity set is art. It is a devotional item.

We must be careful not to speak of “should” and “shouldn’t” and “right” and “wrong” because there is no right and wrong.

The liturgy has rubrics. The GIRM and other Church documents specifies what may and may not be on the altar, said, sung, or otherwise used in the Mass and other liturgies.

The Church does not have rubrics on nativity scenes and other displays associated with the holiday season, especially those that aren’t even inside the church building.

Let’s not be scrupulous people. It is fine to have the nativity set up. It is fine to have baby Jesus in the nativity set. It is fine to have the nativity set without baby Jesus. It is fine to wait until Dec 24 or 25 to put the nativity set up. It is fine to have the wise men in the nativity set. It is fine to wait until Jan 6 to put the wise men in the nativity set. It is fine to take the nativity set down on Dec 26. It is fine to leave it up until Jan 6.

There is no right and wrong. Let’s not state our opinions on how we prefer to do things as if they were rubrics of the Church.


Totally agree.


If we can have icons of the Holy Family with child Jesus up all year long, I see no reason for a time constraint for the nativity.

In fact,

I say keep it up more rather than less.


Why not?

If we can show figures of Christ crucified outside of Good Friday, and Christ risen after Ascension, we can show the infant Christ after Epiphany. :thumbsup:


^This could be applied to so many subjects and posts on CAF; it should be a sticky.


I can understand why some people might think it is inappropriate to have baby Jesus in the crib before the official liturgical season of Christmas but personally, this kind of thing has never really bothered me all that much.

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