What Do Mexican Nativity Sets Have That Mine Doesn’t Have?

my nativityGrowing up in Wisconsin, our nativity set looked a lot like the one at left.

In Mazatlán, most of the nativities (nacimientos) do include these basic items that I grew up with — Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus, shepherd and sheep, 3 kings, a camel, a donkey, an angel. But they also include a WHOLE lot more!

Here, nativities always seem to have turkeys. Why? Because we eat pavo on Christmas? Mazatleco nacimientos also seem to always have chickens.

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And a well. Almost every Mazatleco nativity we’ve seen has a well. Again, why? Because Jesus asked a lady for water at a well, like, 30 years AFTER he was born? The wells are pretty. People did need to drink.

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The nativities I grew up with had pine trees. I always thought that was a little weird. As a kid I imagined that where Jesus lived, maybe palm trees would have grown, but pine trees? Well, Mazatleco nativities have cacti. Lots of different kinds of cacti.

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The shepherds in Mazatlecan nativities often wear sombreros. And they may carry tropical fruits. Or beans. Traditional Christmas foods. They may be miners. Or carry really heavy loads.

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Mary and Jesus may have a comal alongside the manger, for cooking fresh tortillas for all those visiting kings.comal

There are usually a lot of tropical birds in a Mazatleco nativity, and often times a waterfall or water feature. We do live on the ocean, after all. And we are blessed with loads of gorgeous water fowl.

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A nativity here might not be complete without a burro carrying beer, or a lady handing out avocados. Christmas is a cause for getting together with family and friends and celebrating, that’s for sure.

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There are often barnyard animals in a nativity here, including cows, pigs, and geese.

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And, usually, the nativity includes a devil. Sometimes one, sometimes quite a few. The nativities I grew up with included lots of angels, but never, ever a devil.

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Nativity sets here grow so large, over several generations, that many of them become small cities filled with people doing all sorts of different things. Nacimientos are yet another reason to LOVE Mazatlán! 😉

About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

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