It’s been a long time, since I had a nativity scene for the holidays – unless you count glass figurines depicting Jesus, Mary and Joseph. However, my issue is that the woodcarved nativity scenes I like are hugely expensive and that the plastic ones pretending to be wood just don’t look very nice.
This Monday, I chanced to walk into a toy store in Oldenburg that had a “going out of business” sale. And as I browsed the store, I noticed that they had a Playmobil nativity scene and the matching Three Wise Men set at a highly reduced price. And since I like Playmobil figures and have a small collection, I decided to buy it.
When I set up the nativity scene at home, I noticed that it was missing a shepherd and his flock. But that shouldn’t be a huge problem, since Playmobil has lots of sets featuring farm animals and wild animals and the people who care for them. So I checked out the local stores that carry Playmobil toys, only to find that while there were a lot of sets featuring horses and dogs and even a mini-zoo, there was no shepherd (though there had been one in the past) and no sheep except as part of the big farmhouse set.
Eventually, I got lucky and found something that will work. Of course, the shepherds are women and children now and some of them wear dirndl and lederhosen (the Playmobil manufacturer Geobra Brandstätter is headquartered in Bavaria), which are not exactly attire found in Palestine more than 2000 years ago, but then nativity scenes inevitably are fantasies that have little connection to historical reality anyway. For example, the elaborate Christmas mountain nativity scenes from the Erzgebirge region (here is the Crottendorf Christmas mountain and here is the Niederwürschnitz Christmas mountain) always include miners, who used to be very common in the Erzgebirge 100 years ago and not at all common in Palestine 2000 years ago. Also, it’s very unlikely that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were as pale-skinned and light-haired as they’re often depicted. Though Playmobil at least made Mary and Joseph dark-haired.
My shepherds have a variety of different farm animals now, including two sheep. I also dug into my collection of Playmobil stuff and added some rabbits, a family of cats and even a little dog. I’m really happy with the result and I also like the idea of the “shepherds” being farm women and their kids who deliver much more practical gifts than the three wise men. One of the farm women even came with a baby bottle (to feed a lamb), which Mary now holds in her hand.
So take a look at my incredibly cute and absolutely not historically accurate nativity scene. The star even lights up, courtesy of two batteries.