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    Day 12: Nativity Scenes

    The tradition of making nativity scenes originated in Italy, specifically in Assisi, where St Francis, on the occasion of Christmas Eve, organised the world’s first living nativity scene in 1223.

    It was placed in Greccio, in a grotto near the monastery. It featured a life-size manger, animals, and people playing the roles of the Holy Family. With this, St Francis intended to bring the mystery of the Nativity of Christ closer to the people. At first, they were built in Franciscan convents, but over time the tradition spread throughout the world.

    Among the contemporary nativity scenes, we can find both nativity scenes with traditional figures, moving installations, stable scenes with live animals, as well as entire representations of the Bethlehem story acted out by people. Increasingly, a regional or historical element is being incorporated into the construction of nativity scenes, making them an interesting source of information about the place where they are located.

    The most popular Christmas nativity scenes in Poland, which are worth seeing, are in:

    • Basilica in Panewniki, Katowice – the interesting fact about the nativity scene is that there is living stock
    • Poznań at the Franciscan Fathers at Plac Bernardyński, Wambierzyce in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wambierzyce Queen of the Families. It is said to be the oldest mobile nativity scene in Europe.
    • St Barbara’s Church in Ruda Śląska, where the nativity scene itself is enriched with motifs of the culture of Upper Silesia,
    • The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wrocław. It is a beautiful nativity scene that will particularly appeal to children, as there are also fairy tale characters, toys, and even an electric train.

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