How the Nativity scene, a Christmas staple, has evolved.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
Dec. 23 2009 10:09 AM

Crèche Course

How the Nativity scene, a Christmas staple, has evolved.

Public displays of the Nativity scene, unlike Jewish menorahs or Christmas trees, always seem to ruffle a few feathers. In fact, they're banned at New York schools, though activists regularly seek to challenge (so far unsuccessfully) the ruling on the basis of discrimination. Liesl Schillinger, in a 2007 slide-show essay reprinted below, tracks the evolution of what she calls a "3-D representation of the holiest of holy moments."

Click here to launch a slide show.

Round about Halloween this year, New York's Catholic League sent a letter to the local Department of Education, protesting the ban of Christian Nativity scenes in area schools—where Jewish menorahs and Muslim emblems of Ramadan are permitted. Is this a clear case of discrimination against the majority and favoritism of the minority? Christmas envy? Or is something else going on? In the words of of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ, Superstar (set around a different Christian holiday), "What's the buzz? Tell me what's a-happening?!"

Advertisement

Read the Crèche Course slide-show essay about the Christmas crèche.

Liesl Schillinger is a New York-based arts writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.