How to arrange the santons in the crèche?

As Christmas approaches, the atmosphere in the streets, the decorations in shop windows and the bustle of people at this time of year often makes us want to decorate our homes as soon as possible!

From the beginning of December, many people compete in creativity to give their home a touch of magic and tradition. Amongst these decorations, we obviously find the famous Christmas tree dressed with garlands and Christmas baubles, but also the cot which highlights the day of Jesus' birth. Although this last element is not present in all homes, those who wish to have a traditional Christmas do not depart from it.

There are many nativity scenes that are either ready-made or you can make your own. From the most classic to the most contemporary, there are cots for all tastes and all types of decorations. However, did you know that there is a way to arrange the santons in the cot? In this article you will find out how to place them and why.
A short history of santons

Before thinking about the placement of the santons in your crèche, it is important to do a little reminder of the history and origin of the santons. It was in 1223 that the nativity figures were first depicted. At that time it was a living nativity scene created on the initiative of Saint Francis of Assisi. However, this idea was not unanimously accepted at the time and the Pope in particular did not like it. So it was only in the 16th century that these small figures, made according to an ancestral know-how, appeared in churches. It was at this period that cots really appeared in churches.

From then on, the faithful became accustomed to come and admire the santons. Initially sculpted in wax, symbol of purity and holiness, some figurines were however made of wood, plaster or even breadcrumbs. The Revolution marked a turning point in the making of cots and santons. Indeed, in this troubled and very complicated age for the Church, places of worship were closed and believers found themselves unable to pray in front of the figures of the Nativity. They therefore decided to set up the Christmas cot in their own homes. It is from this precise moment that the small Santons appear. The first santons fair took place in the city of Marseille in December 1803.
Traditional cot: the placement of the santons

Contrary to what some people may think, the Christmas cot is not set in tradition and should give free rein to your imagination! Many decorations are possible and its creation should be a creative moment for the whole family. Having said that, in the tradition, the placement of the santons should not be done at random. Here's what you need to know. First of all, all the santons in your cot must give the impression of walking towards Jesus. The santons should not turn their backs on him. In addition, the Nativity figures Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the donkey and the ox should be placed in the centre of your cot. The Magi should not be missing either. It is also important to note that the santon representing the figure of Jesus should not be positioned before 24th December. A place must therefore be left between Mary and Joseph in anticipation.

The Blessed Virgin should be positioned close to the donkey. The santon of Joseph should be positioned next to the ox. Indeed, in the Bible, the Virgin travelled on the donkey's back to the stable, which is why she remains close to the animal. The Magi, on the other hand, must be placed far away and advanced day by day until January 6th, the date of the Epiphany, which celebrates the day on which they arrive at the cot after a long journey in order to offer the newborn baby precious gifts of Myrrh, Incense and Gold. The santon representing the Angel Gabriel, who according to the Bible announces the birth of Christ to the greatest number of people, must be placed behind Mary.

Finally, outside the cot, do not forget to place the shepherd and his sheep. Afterwards, you are free to place santons representing the trades of the time around the cot (the miller, the baker, the bugadière, the water carrier, the stonemason etc.).
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