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! 😉