No Nativity Scene til Christmas?


I have a question regarding Nativity scenes… Is there a good reason for a priest not wanting nativity scenes used until after Christmas? Is it simply because we are to wait in anticipation for the coming of Christ? Does the Church request this also or is it a personal choice by the priest? It was just a shocker to me as our Church had displayed a huge nativity scene for years.



Sounds like a personal decision. It is customary in some places to leave the infant Jesus figure out of the scene until Christmas. Perhaps the priest wishes to emphasize that Christmas STARTS at Christmas and not at Halloween.


The Nativity Scene is not part of the season of Advent - it is not to be up until Christmas Eve! To put the Stable up is okay as that is in anticipation of Christmas (what Advent is about), it is okay to put the animals and the manger in the scene but not Mary, Joseph or the Infant Jesus.

The same with the Wise Men, they should not be included until Epiphany ;).

There is far more than a Priest’s personal opinion at play here. Your Church should not be decorated for Christmas yet either - Advent is the first season of the Church, then Christmas, a bit of Ordinary Time, then Lent, Easter Triduum, Easter Season and Ordinary Time again.

Of course, some churches due to time constraints may need to do some decorating the week before Christmas.

Brenda V.


Thanks for the information… he did mention leaving the scene but removing certain people from it… I do understand the idea of the anticipation and this was my first thought. The same goes for Church decorating, but for how long has this been encouraged as it seems only recently these things have been put into action… For years we’ve been doing both these things well before Christmas and I’m thinking only in the last few years have we waited with these things… Have there been any formal instructions from the Bishops that you could refer me to… so that I might share them with anyone else who may question the decision?

Just a side note… we were also encouraged to share these ideas with the other local Protestant churchs… My own opinion was that there were bigger issues to start “wars” over than this one… I have a real good feeling it would not go over that great with them.



The liturgical Christmas season does not begin until Christmas. Advent is a time of anticipation. Usually the scene is set up without Jesus, anticipating His coming, and then He is added on Christmas.


I don’t even listen to Christmas carols until Christmas Day. The secular world stretches the so called Christmas season from Halloween all the way through. It does so because the goal is to get people to start spending money as soon as possible. The secular world plays mainly carols that are secular. Advent for me is a time of quiet anticipation and reflection. Limiting the carols, tree, creche, etc until the Liturgical season of Christmas makes all of these things more precious each year, because there is a limited time to enjoy it all. Let’s face it, by being hammered with secular stuff for weeks prior to the real Christmas, don’t you get a bit sick of it?


I agree that many businesses are trying to extend the spending season, but I highly doubt decorating inside the Church is a huge advertising scheme;) … I do understand your point though,but actually I wished people acted like it was Christmas year round, for some it’s the only season they ever think about God.:frowning: … And people do have a tendancy to act nicer during Christmas.



I don’t think we can fully blame businesses. For a number of years in my teens and twenties I loved singing Christmas hymns in the middle of August each year - my own choice, because I loved them! I’ve also heard a number of people decide to put up their Christmas tree or bake Christmas stuff in the beginning of December due to other functions (some not Christmas functions) later in the month and preparation for a family Christmas party necessitated the earlier time. I have always found that things that I wanted to get my family for Christmas were less expensive if I bought them before Thanksgiving. One year I got all my Christmas shopping done by September, but found that I missed all the excitement (the enjoyable excitement-the day before Christmas in stores is more frantic and stressed than enjoyable) from shoppers in December. Now I get 90% done before the prices go up, but purposely leave some. Any Christmas presents that need to be mailed I do so at the beginning of December to avoid the long lines at the PO, too. Advent is the inward and outward preparation for Christmas, just as kneeling for the Consecration is the outward sign of our inward reality (supreme reverence). I’ve no problem with Christmas decorations and music throughout December - the more likely it will positively influence someone who’s only response to Christmas is, “Bah, humbug”.

As far as the Nativity scene at church - when I was a protestant nothing was thought of putting up a full Nativity scene the first week of Advent (I was Anglican so we did celebrate the liturgical seasons). On becoming a Catholic I’ve mostly seen that Nativity scenes at parish churches were put up the first week of December, but that the Baby Jesus was not put in the manger until Midnight Mass on Christmas eve.


For as long as I can remember (as a 50 yo Cradle Catholic) the Nativity was never completed until Midnight Mass - as I pointed out before, the stable was set up and the animals and manger were in place but no Jesus, Mary or Joseph until Christmas Eve.

This may very well be something that is more of a local occurrence but that is strange since I have lived in many places in my 50 years ;). Have to admit though it has mostly been either over seas (military chapels) or in fly-over country i.e. not the East Coast or West Coast where everything from politics to the Bishops seems to be more liberal (and yes, I know there are pockets of good practicing Catholics in these areas just to hear from y’all you’d never know it).

Brenda V.

p.s. I love Christmas music - secular and religious so I have been known to listen to some just about anytime of the year, it must be noted that in a private home where I am not participating in a Liturgy it is different than in Church where Liturgies and the Liturgical year should be followed.


As far as the Nativity scene at church - when I was a protestant nothing was thought of putting up a full Nativity scene the first week of Advent (I was Anglican so we did celebrate the liturgical seasons). On becoming a Catholic I’ve mostly seen that Nativity scenes at parish churches were put up the first week of December, but that the Baby Jesus was not put in the manger until Midnight Mass on Christmas eve.

In my Anglican youth, the priest taught us not to put up our Christmas trees at home until 21 December, the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, something I still do, or on the 4th Sunday of Advent, whichever comes first. In our Anglican parish the creche scene did not go up until Christmas Eve, and even then, the Christ Child was not placed in the manger until Midnight Mass. We still do the same at my house. If the priest thought that you had your tree up early, he sadly referred to it as an “Advent bush.”





I do the same thing.


Huh, none of the episcopal priests I had ever said anything about it, but then some of them were very low-church (even to refusing to refer to themselves as "priests). It’s been years and years, but when you mentioned the “Advent Bush” you did put a grin on my face from vague childhood memories.:smiley: I’d forgotten about hearing that term.

  			Originally Posted by **Brenda V.** 					[]("") 				
  		 (and yes, I know there are pockets of good practicing Catholics in these areas just to hear from y'all you'd never know it).

SD - that was to make it clear that I know there are good Catholics/Diocese/Priests every where but when I come to this forum and complaints (often legitimate) are made they seem to cluster from people on the East Coast and the West Coast the two places I have either never been or was too young to remember how things were done.

Brenda V.


OK… I gottcha:thumbsup: … I’m from neither… SD is not San Diego… We have great pockets of Catholics here;)



we put ours up, complete with Infant, (homemade, 1.5 x lifesiz) on the Church lawn first Sunday of Advent because we are the downtown parish, and Father wanted a public display to augment the completely secular civic lighting and decoration. Volunteers added animals this year, they are so cute, whoever painted them put great expressions on their faces. It will stay in place until Jan 4 (unless it gets stolen, spotlights have already been taken twice).


I wanted to highlight this, because I totally agree. In our homes, putting up the nativity can be a great learning experience for the children…reading the story, putting up the pieces, have a nativity for the children to play with…can help children understand what Advent/Christmas is about. Even putting up the tree can be an anticipatory event. However the Church has care of the Advent liturgies and the Christmas liturgies and they are seperate. To sing Joy to the World in Church now during Advent would be out of place. To see a full nativity in Church would be out of place. However, I think the Church could put up a nativity outside of the Church building and it not be an issue–just like puzzleannie posted.


Our tree is already up – has been since * before* Advent – altho’ mainly because we wanted to see how our cat would react to it.

I call it a “Christmas Tree” because that is what I’ve always called it; I wouldn’t call it an “Advent bush” because that’s a neologism for me. Besides, the tree is pretty much a secular symbol that has been adopted by the Church. I see no real difference between putting up a tree and putting up mistletoe, Yule logs, snowmen, or Santa and eight/nine/ten reindeer. Or Americans who put up flags and wear tricorn hats in early July to celebrate that little unpleasantness in the colonies.

I mean, if I eat a chocolate bunny too early, does it become a “Lenten bunny”? :shrug:

Our creche is going up very soon – with the animals in it. (Technically, you could leave the empty creche up year round, as one can assume the real stable existed before the Nativity and continued to exist thereafter). Christmas Eve, before I go to Midnight Mass, Mary and Joseph will go in. After I come home from Mass, the infant Jesus. The shepherds come later, then after them, the Magi.

I do agree though that secularly (especially commercially) speaking, there is a super-saturation of Christmasy stuff (music, decorations, etc) – this is to a degree understandable, since the week before Christmas is too late to start selling decorations, presents, etc. I do believe, however, that the season is starting far too early, and I hear many complaints from customers (I work retail :() that they are getting overwhelmed and overloaded by the start of December. (I’m lucky – trapped as I am in the checkout line, I only see such Christmas decorations as are brought to me for purchase, and I have to a great degree managed to tune out the incessant – and for a large part, bad – Christmas music).

And yet, despite it all, I look forward to coming home each day and turning on my little tree, and basking in the glow of its tiny lights, and just letting a warm feeling of peace and anticipation come over me. It’s like a visual spa. And I look even more forward to the day that I put the Infant in the creche. :thumbsup:


Not to derail the thread, but as a side note, our store goes 24-hours starting this Friday, until Christmas Eve.

Bad enough the shop owners take away our Sabbath Day – now they want the Night, too.

My point is, please pray:

*]for us poor schmucks who have to work these hours to satisfy the corporate bottom line.
*]for the consumer, that they not buy in to corporate greed, and restrict their shopping to “decent” hours – emergencies excepted – and that God show them the difference between “emergency” and “inconvenient”.
*]for the corporate officers and leaders, that they not harden their hearts, and try to take New Years (Mary, The Mother of God), Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter from us as well.

Pray too, that all of us – workers, employers, shop owners, consumers – soften our hearts, to make some sacrifices of convenience or the bottom line, so that unnecessary work can be eliminated on Holy Days and the Sabbath, and so that there will be no conflict between rendering to Caesar and rendering to God.

Through Christ our Lord, whose Coming we eagerly await.


We put Christmas decorations up before Halloween. It’s cause my mom hates Halloween and was much more excited for Christ’s birthday. :smiley:

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