A couple of pulled apart liquorice allsorts; laboratory sample tubes; several wooden blocks that cost US$225 – in 2020, anything can be a nativity.
This week the internet gathered around to puzzle over a festive selection of “minimalist nativity sets” discovered by a Twitter user Kirby Jones, in a post that has been liked nearly half a million times.
The four sets discovered by Jones inspired others to post their own favourite odd nativities – fitting for a year in which the coronavirus pandemic means Christmas looks very different.
This year even the Christmas mass in Bethlehem on the West Bank – the setting for nativity scenes that depict the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable – will be closed to the public over coronavirus fears. Normally, hundreds of believers attend midnight mass at the Saint Catherine Church next to the Church of the Nativity.
Into the gap left by actual nativity scenes has stepped minimalist nativity, crafted out of found objects or even happened upon accidentally. In the process, every day items have been transformed into gatherings of mother, child, Joseph, the three kings and various animals.
In one a science-themed version, an angel’s halo was made from the cap liner of a cryotube. In others, Poker chips and cacti played the three wise men.
In what one user claimed was “accidental minimalist activity”, but could have been a holy apparition – a toilet roll symbolised the newborn Baby Jesus, who slept in the heavenly peace under the watchful gaze of two cans of toilet spray. In other minimalist nativities, the role of Baby Jesus was performed by an old slice of apple, a bottle of pills, a miniature jar of raspberry jam, Pikachu, a purple earplug, salt, and a grape.
One user complained that “we’ve Marie Kondo’d the birth of christ,” while others began to see nativity scenes in everything.
“Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this,” asked a person in a post showing a collection of neatly dissected liquorice allsorts.
“I thought you were creating a minimalist nativity scene”, wrote another in response.