Terra Cotta Nativity

Even though I'm not doing a lot of Christmas decorating this year, I did fall in love with this little terra cotta nativity scene at the annual 60% off overstock sale at SERRV. It's worth the trek into the farmlands of Maryland to visit the sale -- people make annual pilgrimages from many hours away just to stock up on sustainable, responsibly made crafts, baskets and gifts at a discount.

This little nativity was marked down to $5.60 and handmade by artisans in Bangladesh through a special job skills development and employment program. The stable is about 6" wide, so it's small without being tiny. I really like the simple, unglazed and unpainted clay--and that tiny little lamb! I used to love rearranging the figurines of our family's nativity scene as a kid, so I'm sure these little guys will be playing musical chairs around the stable as well.

My little point-and-shoot camera isn't doing it justice. You can see another image and, if you're a fan, buy one for yourself online for $9 here.

Do you have a nativity set? There are so many variations and interpretations -- I wish I could justify collecting them. What's yours like?


  1. I have 3 but am considering purchasing a 4th this year. Saw one at Maggie's last weekend that made me catch my tears back. So humble and sweet.

    I have 1 in carved teak - primitive. 1 in carved olive wood and 1 in a sort of Mexican tri-fold, reminiscent of a mini-altar. Love them all.

  2. Is that a snake on baby Jesus?

  3. J-ROD: No, it's not a snake! If it were, that would be a super interesting interpretation of the nativity scene. Wasn't it the "Passion of the Christ" movie that had the snake showing up all through it?

    At first I had thought it was an umbilical cord (which would also be interesting) but it seems to just be a part the way his little swaddling clothes are draped. Each one is hand sculpted though, so there might be some differences from one edition to the next. If I make it back to the store, I will see if I can look at a couple different ones!

  4. poindextr: Those sound great! Just the types I like.

  5. Thank you so much for posting this! I would have never found this cute ornament otherwise: http://www.serrv.org/Holiday/Ornaments/ReligiousOrn/43080.aspx

    How "red" is your nativity? The picture on the website is much darker than yours...just curious.

    Do you guys have an artificial tree or do you cut a real one? As a kid I always wanted a real tree, but we never had one. Jas and I started the real tree tradition during our first Christmas together. We think the experience is worth the extra money.

  6. Lace, that is a super cute ornament! Did you buy it?

    Our nativity isn't very red. The Jesus and Joseph figurines are slightly redder than all the other pieces though. Overall, it's kind of a pale tan, not very dark. Each version is somewhat different though, from what I saw of those that were out of the box.

    We've only put up a Christmas tree once in our 5 Christmases together. It was a fake one a friend was getting rid of, and we left it in another friend's storage unit in Miami when we moved. Not a very inspiring story, right? We are never home for Christmas, so it has seemed a little pointless.

    To be honest I struggle with the idea of having a Christmas tree. In addition to having no room for one in our house right now (and the fact that they are kind of expensive considering they serve no practical purpose), Christmas trees have nothing to do with Jesus or his birth, and were co-opted from pagan tradition. I'm sure some readers will be turned off to my blog altogether now that I've said that, but I'm not judgmental about it. I'm not even sure that it's really a big deal.

    I've just been thinking more lately about what it means to stop "conforming to the pattern of this world" -- I kind of feel convicted that this is one very small way I can stop going through the motions. I truly love Christmas (and even holiday decorating), and I don't think my lack of tree will really hinder my celebration. I know it may sound weird, but I am feeling more and more that I need to make an effort to live my life more thoughtfully, more obediently. How I treat my body/health, my husband, my finances, my career, my home, other people... I'm slowly trying to re-examine everything and do things more purposefully.

    At the same time, I don't want to be legalistic and live by a bunch of totally unnecessary, self-imposed rules. I don't have anything figured out really, but I'm beginning to work through it.

    All of that to say... I don't have a Christmas tree, and we probably won't be getting one this year. Maybe I will feel differently next year. If we do, I'd love to have a real one! My parents took us a few times to pick one in the field, and it was so much fun -- albeit FREEZING. Warming up with hot chocolate was a nice ending to the experience too. Maybe I can come up with some other tradition that is just as fun for the family as picking out the tree.

    Maybe I should've just written a whole blog post about this huh? :-p

  7. Ditto on the Mexican tri-fold, reminiscent of a mini-altar. I expect mariachi music every time I open it. (Thanks Em!)

  8. Emily, in a WAY I understand what you're saying about the tree if that's your perspective, but what you're saying does come across as a little extreme. It's just a tree, after all... and I'm sure you'll change your tune once you have kids.

  9. Anonymous -- I appreciate you speaking up! I have been a little worried about people thinking I'm extreme and weird as a result of that comment, but I guess that only bothers me to a certain extent. I'm just trying to figure out how I feel about certain things, and I figure honesty is the best policy.

    Like I said, that's just how I feel right now. And you may be totally right; I may change my mind once I have kids, and maybe even sooner than that. I don't think Christmas trees are evil; my point is that I don't want to do things just because they are the norm. If I'm going to have a belief system, I want to be thoughtful about it. This year I'm not feeling the tree thing at my house. I'm actually quite interested to see how I feel next year. I will let you know in 12 months!!!


Thanks for reading! I love your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. Keep 'em coming!