Post Mortem

Re-enactment of the Nativity of Jesus

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/17/2018 12:15:37 PM IST

 Christmas celebration draws our attention to that blessed night when Christ condescended to assume human status and be born at stable in Bethlehem. This event is observed solemnly every year by Christians worldwide. Christmas makes the month of December spectacularly unique. The monotony that accompanies rest of the months ceases and festive atmosphere commences its enchantment. Stereo set booming all time favourite Boney M songs, churches and houses adorned with stars and glittering light, cakes ubiquitously sold in bakeries and grocery shops, carol singing with stringed instruments, Santa Claus planted tall with bulging belly and gift bag slung on shoulder standing at shopping mall entrance, alley, street and Churches, all indicating the significance of that glorious birth which divided human history decisively into B.C and A.C for all ages to come. However, all these in a strict sense fail to capture our imagination to immediately connect ourselves to historical birth of Jesus Christ. There is one popular tradition which depicts vividly making us to time travel back to Bethlehem, namely (crèche) or crib. It is a creative portrayal that re-enacts the nativity scene as recorded in the Holy Bible. This supremely edifying tradition goes back to St. Francis of Assisi one of the most faithful sons of the Catholic Church. This marvelous re-capturing happened in 1223 in the town of Greccio in Italy. St. Francis desiring to witness the lowly poverty of Christ’s birth sent word to a religious nobleman Messier Giovanni Velitta in Greccio. Giovanni provided an ox and donkey, with a stable, getting ready as Francis requested with great excitement for the coming celebration. When holy night arrived, Francis with many of his friars gathered around the first crib. The hay in the manger with live cattle around it, the vigil celebration began with joy. Great multitude of people came from various places, with lighted candles and torches to witness the Nativity scene being re-created by the saint. Instantly this novel devotion to Infant Jesus grew very popular in that vicinity and gradually it spread throughout European continent. For almost three centuries (1223 origin of crib - 1517 Protestant Reformation) crib making took prominent place among all external preparations during Christmas. However, after the Reformation Movement, crib assumed pre-eminent place among southern European nations where Catholicism was prevalent, while Christmas trees were preferred choice for decoration in northern Europe where Protestantism thrived there. Over the centuries crib tradition spread beyond Europe finding place in all Christian churches worldwide. Here I would like to recap on how American Christians began crib making tradition, since Nagas had first American Baptist missionary to preach Christ to us. It was Moravian missionaries (Moravian Church Founder by John Huss in early 15th century began in the Kingdom of Bohemia in today’s Czech Republic. He parted way from Catholic Church because he personal differences to some of the practices and doctrines.) The Sect also known as Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) entered the USA in 1735 and established the first ever community in Pennsylvania, North America. Moravian missionaries from Germany brought with them the tradition of Putz making from their country. Putz is a miniature landscape, with figures, structures and animals neatly arranged at the foot of Christmas tree. This tradition was found mostly among the Moravian till late 1800’s with simple handcrafted castles, landscape and other figurines. But with the Industrial Revolution in the first quarter of 19th century Christmas decoration manufacture by Japanese manufacturers with expensive Christmas tree decorated with lights and Putz items flooded the US, from then on the machine made Putz items began to find place in Malls, homes and Churches in the US, perhaps that is how they brought some elements of Christmas celebration to our State. However, India is a home to first Century Christianity, we have St. Thomas who landed here to preach Christ thus, our Christian brethren in other parts of our country had these traditional practices for centuries. And they brought the traditions of Crib and Christmas tree to our State. Today, irrespective of denominations we have cribs dotting our churches, roads and even houses, Christmas trees in the middle of the villages with balloons and cards embracing wholeheartedly the good old practices to embellish our spiritual life, recreating Bethlehem in our own native land. Happy Christmas to all brethren in Christ Jesus.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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