Catholic Activity: Christmas Crib
The Christmas Crib, crèche, nativity scene, il presepe, or whatever you call it is one decoration that so beautifully reminds us of the first Nativity. Here are some suggestions on how to implement this custom easily in our homes.
Over seven centuries ago St. Francis of Assisi popularized a beautiful idea. He thought it would be a great help to his devotion and that of the people if they could see a representation of the Nativity scene at the Christmas Mass. His idea caught. Before many years had passed, the Christmas crib was a feature of most churches and many homes during the Christmas season. Today in our country this beautiful practice, especially in the homes, has been going the way of many of our Christian customs. It should be reinstated. You do not have to go to great expense to make a Nativity scene. If it is impossible to purchase a regular crib-set you can make your own. The stable can be made out of a box. Straw or grass and pieces of evergreen will help to set the stage. A small statue of the Blessed Mother can be obtained reasonably (or made out of cardboard for that matter). Make a small straw bed and leave it empty until Christmas morning. After Midnight Mass lay in it a tiny Christ Child. For the Baby Jesus you can use a baby doll which can be obtained at the five and ten cent store for a few cents. If you can get (or make) a statue of St. Joseph, shepherds, lambs, etc., do so; but the main thing is the Mother and Child. Let the children help you make the Crib. Even if you buy one of the regular sets, it might be well to get a set of cut-outs for the children. They will love to put it up in their room.
In German homes, candles for each member of the family are placed around the crib. They are lit from a large candle which represents the Christ Child. The significance is that all the love and light in the family comes from Jesus Who is the "Light of the world." In these families, all the members kneel in adoration and sing the hymn "Silent Night."
Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955