Once the Advent season rolls in, out comes the belen.
It doesn’t matter if your belen is made up of wood, copper wires, or plush, because what’s important is that it clearly represents a pivotal moment in the Church’s salvation history: the birth of Christ.
In some households, the belen is a family bonding-slash-tradition. Some countries like the Philippines have even incorporated their own culture in the belen— have you seen the nativity scene with a bahay-kubo as a background? (Read: The Pope’s Prayer Intention for December 2020)
But before you set up your belen, let’s find out who are the main characters in the nativity scene and in which order should they appear.
Characters in the Nativity Scene: Joseph and Mary
Naturally, they are the first ones to appear. In Bethlehem for a census, they find refuge for the night in a cave that was probably a storage area of the main house. (Read: Uplifting Lessons We Can Learn from Mary and Joseph on the First Christmas)
Characters in the Nativity Scene: Ox and the Donkey
The gospels make no mention of them, but according to tradition, they keep the newborn Baby, who is placed in the manger, warm.
Characters in the Nativity Scene: Baby Jesus
Even if the entire representation revolves around Him, the little statue is only placed in the manger at midnight of December 24.
Characters in the Nativity Scene: The Angel
According to Luke, soon after the birth of Jesus, an angel of the Lord appears to a group of shepherds and announces the birth of the Savior to them. After the announcement, a multitude of angels arrives as well. (Read: Meet the Three Archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael)
Characters in the Nativity Scene: Shepherds
Following the Gospel according to Luke, the first ones to hear the birth of Jesus are some shepherds, who kept watch over their flock. The angel frightens them at first, but they decide to seek out the Savior nonetheless.
Characters in the Nativity Scene: Three Kings
It is tradition to consider the gifts given by the kings as the last event of the nativity scene. Place the statues after midnight, far away from the cave; every day, move them closer until the encounter on January 6. (Read: The Three Kings: Real or Fake News?)