The Slater Area Historical Association has mounted holiday exhibits in the past and this year is no exception. They’ve gathered together over 70 Nativity scenes from members and friends in the community to display in their new exhibit “The Nativity Tradition,” which will have an opening reception and will be on exhibit through New Years. Each Nativity has a special meaning, a story a heritage that is important to the meaning of each family’s Christmas.

One of the most impressive of the Nativities on display is the 17-piece ceramic scene discovered in a storage room at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Slater. The largest figure is over a foot tall. Its origin is unsure, the pieces are signed “Margaret 1985”, and it is obviously handmade. It is joined in the exhibit by many, many more Nativities waiting to be viewed.

“We’re so pleased to be able to put together such a meaningful exhibit this year. The response has been great as we pull together the different scenes and arrange them for display,” states Barb Mallon, SAHA president.

The Association’s exhibit puts the Nativity tradition in historical perspective. The history of the manger scene tradition goes back to the year 1233 when St. Francis commemorated Jesus’ birth with a living tableau. Today living Nativities are a common expression of faith in religious congregations. The creation of the manger scene in many different materials and in many different interpretations is now an important part of almost every Western culture, each country interpreting in its own way. The common representations are actually an elaboration of the New Testament, adding shepherds, animals, and Magi on a single timeline.

The public is invited to the opening reception for this special exhibit on Sunday, Dec. 9, from 1-5 p.m., at Heritage Hall Museum, 318 First Avenue, Slater. The exhibit will be up through New Years with holiday hours from 1-3 on Sundays, and the usual 10-2 on Thursdays. Call 515-480-9789 to visit at any time.

Photo caption:

The elaborate Nativity scene discovered in a Bethlehem Church storage room which will be on display with more than 70 other scenes.