When I was a little girl, one of my favorite family gatherings took place at my grandmother's cousin's house every winter. Mi Tía Ale had an incredible collection of nacimientos, which she painstakingly set up every year. I can remember the elaborate details of some of the bigger ones with individual pieces, as well as the teensy, tiny ones. There was incredible diversity: some were made of ceramic, others of wood, and some would even light-up. At night she would dim the lights in the room and the staging area would softly glow.
If you live in the Chicago area, be sure to stop by the Field Museum and go through one of their temporary exhibits, Traditions Retold: Mexican Nativity Scenes. This bilingual exhibit explores the long-standing tradition of creating nacimientos in Mexico. From pre-Hispanic to Catholic influence, the nativity scenes are made from amazingly diverse materials and unique symbolism, which would be great for teachers and students who are studying micro-cultures and indigenous melding. In addition, the museum incorporates the stories of modern day Mexican Americans and their nacimientos into the exhibit. A fabuloso opportunity for developing your child/student's cultural pride.
The exhibit will be open through September 18, 2011, so you have plenty of time to visit, but the impact would probably be greatest this week before el día de los reyes. It's the perfect time, no? I wish we were in Chicago!
Con mucho cariño...