Nativity of Jesus

The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Christ or birth of Jesus is described in the biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.[1][2]

Adoration of the Shepherds by Dutch painter Matthias Stomer, 1632
Medieval miniature of the Nativity, c.1350

The nativity is the basis for the Christian holiday of Christmas on December 25, and plays a major role in the Christian liturgical year. Many Christians traditionally display small manger scenes depicting the nativity in their homes, or attend Nativity Plays or Christmas pageants focusing on the nativity cycle in the Bible. Elaborate nativity displays called "creche scenes", featuring life-sized statues, are a tradition in many continental European countries during the Christmas season.

Christian congregations of the Western tradition (including the Catholic Church, the Western Rite Orthodox, the Anglican Communion, and many other Protestants, such as the Moravian Church) begin observing the season of Advent four Sundays before Christmas. Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church observe a similar season, sometimes called Advent but also called the "Nativity Fast", which begins forty days before Christmas. Some Eastern Orthodox Christians (e.g. Greeks and Syrians) celebrate Christmas on December 25. Other Orthodox (e.g. Copts, Ethiopians, Georgians, and Russians) celebrate Christmas on (the Gregorian) January 7 (Koiak 29 on the Coptic calendar)[3] as a result of their churches continuing to follow the Julian calendar, rather than the modern day Gregorian calendar.[4] The Armenian Apostolic Church however continues the original ancient Eastern Christian practice of celebrating the birth of Christ not as a separate holiday, but on the same day as the celebration of his baptism (Theophany), which is on January 6.

The artistic depiction of the nativity has been an important subject for Christian artists since the 4th century. Artistic depictions of the nativity scene since the 13th century have emphasized the humility of Jesus and promoted a more tender image of him, a major change from the early "Lord and Master" image, mirroring changes in the common approaches taken by Christian pastoral ministry during the same era.[5][6][7]


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