Is Baby Jesus supposed to be in the creche before Christmas?

Somewhere I picked up the idea that you weren’t supposed to put the baby Jesus in creches or manger scenes before Christmas. Talking to some people recently though, I seem to be the only one to hold this opinion. Did I make this up? Are there rules about this? Do different denominations do this differently? Do different countries do this differently? (it’s possible I picked this idea up in Germany, where I lived for a while as a kid)

(Note: I am not a Christian, but I did attend various generic Protestant churches in my youth, which may also be where I picked this up.)

Leaving Him in the box while all the other ornaments are being admired makes the Baby Jesus…

(aw, man. One ticket to Hell, please.)

We attend a Catholic church and they don’t put him in until Christmas Eve. When I was a kid we didn’t have the option, since our Jesus was attached to the manger.

I’ve heard that, too. At my house, there’s no choice, however. In one of my nativity sets, Jesus is firmly affixed to the manger, and in the other Mary is holding the baby.

I’m not sure how it’s supposed to be. But if Jesus isn’t supposed to be in the manger until Christmas - that is, if people are going to get literal about the timeline - then neither Mary nor Joseph should be in the entire display until Christmas Eve, and no Wise Men until January 6. And if Mary IS in the display before Jesus is put into the manger, then shouldn’t she be quite visibly pregnant? And then not pregnant as of December 25?


I have heard of people who slowly add the figures as the Christmas season goes along, but I have no idea how widespread the practice is.

At an Advent program at my church yesterday, one of the staff members suggested making one’s creche set “interactive” to emphasize the fact that Christmas is about Jesus. She said to find a kid-friendly set with detachable Jesus (that would make a great album title). Start out the beginning of Advent with just Mary, Joseph and their donkey. Then, each day, have your children check the manger to see if Jesus is there. Her theory is that on Christmas day, kids will run to the manger scene first to see if the baby Jesus has arrived. And then they’ll tear open their presents. :dubious:

After Christmas, introduce the shepherds to the scene, and place the wisemen some distance away (in another room for instance), moving them closer and closer each day until Jan. 6.

She also told us a joke:

Of course, Mary couldn’t have had PMS then, as she was pregnant, but I still laughed.

Christmas day is preceded by four weeks of Advent,a time of penitence–sort of a mini-Lent. Celebration is not forbidden–St Nicholas & St Lucia have their days & people are getting ready for the big day; details vary by region. This is traditional Catholic practice, but I believe some of the more traditional Protestants go along in a general sort of way.

In Italy, for example, people traditionally fasted the day before Christmas. In Southern Italy, a feast of seafood is served that evening. See–no meat at the meal! So much suffering–with numerous wonderful fish & shellfish dishes.

Then there’s Midnight Mass. The baby Jesus appears in the creche, and the next day is the First Day of Christmas. So the celebration is really just beginning. Twelfth Night is Epiphany–a gift giving day for some. And for many the first night of Carnival, Fasching, etc.

In standard US practice, Christmas is over once all the shopping is done. The day after Christmas, take down the tree & get ready for Superbowl!

brix11 now that was damn funny!

I with the Jesus shouldn’t show up til Christmas, but then again I wish people Christmas would celebrate Christmas as a season (December 25- January 6). If we’re gonna do it; do it right.

brix11 now that was damn funny!

I with the Jesus shouldn’t show up til Christmas, but then again I wish people would celebrate Christmas as a season (December 25- January 6). If we’re gonna do it; do it right.

If BJ isn’t in the manger, then what are all those people standing around for? Should we have them play cards or video games in the days (weeks, months) leading up to Christmas so they don’t get bored?

Chronology of how you’re “really supposed” to do it – adapt to taste, detachability of Baby Jesus, etc.

Advent Sunday (4th Sunday before Christmas, normally the Sunday after Thanksgiving): Set up stable scene with ox, ass, sheep ad lib., empty manger.

Christmas Eve: Read Luke story, aloud if desired. Add Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angel, shepherds (with addl. sheep if desired) at appropriate times during narrative. (Family-friendly fun way of doing this: have an older kid who’s a good reader do the story aloud, while littler ones follow along and have figurines to place at the right times.)

After Christmas: Have Wise Men at some distance from Manger scene, perhaps moving them closer day by day.

January 6 (Epiphany): Add Wise Men, gifts to mix. (Technically they never showed up at the Stable, since Mary and Joseph were settled in a house in Bethlehem at that point according to Matthew – but who messes with Creche-scene tradition?!?)

Needless to say, you’re not going to Hell for not doing it right or anything – this is just the S.O.P. way of adding elements to the creche according to the classic process.

My family has always kept Jesus out of the creche until Christmas Eve, when the youngest child present is allowed to put him in between his kneeling parents. (It’s a little odd to see them kneeling there staring at nothing during the days leading up to Christmas, but whatever. That’s How It’s Always Been Done.) Even though we had the fused Jesus/manger thing some posters have made mention of.

The (Episcopal) church I grew up in did this, but all my mom’s upteen nativities (she collects them) either had non-detatchable Jesii, or she just didn’t want to bother ‘tweaking’ all gazillion of them during the season.

Unless the T-Rex carried off the baby Jesus…

/Mr. Bean Christmas

We have an Advent calendar that has one little compartment for each day of the season. The calendar itself is a stand-alone stable backdrop, and the figures get progressively more Christmassy. First there are farm animals and shepherds, then Mary and Joseph turn up mid-month, then the kings and their presents, and then a couple of angels. The Star comes on the 24th, and Baby Jesus is on the 25th.

We also have a more traditional creche we set up whenever we decorate for Christmas, and it has an attached Baby Jesus. But I really, really want to start a band now, just so we can put out a Christmas album and name it “Detachable Jesus.”

When one of my friends answered my question about why there was an empty manger in her nativity set with, “Well, he’s not there until Christmas” I said almost exactly what you did here, missbunny. At which point she looked at me blankly, turned to her husband, and said, “Well? This was your idea.”

He just shook his head, muttered something about me being a heathen, and left the room.

She turned to me and said, “Apparently, he doesn’t know either. So we’ll go with ‘because that’s the way we’ve ALWAYS DONE IT BEFORE.’”

My opinion would just to be to put Jesus in the manger whenever the thing is set up and consider it a representation of Christmas Day. I just think it’s weird to keep him out because it’s not 12/25 yet to be literal about everything else. Why not park Mary & Joseph 10 miles away on 12/23, then 5 miles away on 12/24, then outside the inn upon their untimely arrival at 6:30 AM because the innkeeper wasn’t up yet so they couldn’t actually get inside to ask if there were any rooms; then show them taking steps closer and closer to the barn, etc.?

Why is the innkeeper never a part of this whole thing anyway? Seems to me he was an integral part of the story.

This is why they didn’t like me in Sunday School. Too many questions about why lots of suppsedly true things in the Bible made no sense whatsoever.

Never having seen an official rule book on this (is there such a thing?), I guess it does come down to how literal it all is supposed to be.

I guess if you use the creche just as a Christmas decoration it can all be together from the begining, but if you’re using it as an interactive learning tool to tell the Christmas story, then Polycarp’s S.O.P. fits.

What exactly would the innkeeper be doing? Standing to the side, denying Mary and Joseph a room? Of course, you’d have to have the entire town of Bethlehem represented, and each inn featuring a stern innkeeper barring his door… :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually, I’ve seen some fantastic creche scenes in Italy and Spain, some of which will include entire dioramas of Bethlehem. And often on fairly large scales (particularly the ones placed in town squares). The artistry and craftsmanship that goes into designing these scenes, down to the most minute details, is really something to behold.

Incidentally, in the creches I’ve seen in those places, the Christ Child typically isn’t placed there until Christmas Eve. Just a traditional way of signifying that Christmas begins with Christ’s birth.

A few sites with examples of Italian creche scenes: