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Nativities go on display at church festival this weekend

Submitted Photo This clay Nativity to be displayed at the Festival Nativities by Raena Tonini came from Brazil.

Seasonal music and more than 165 Nativity scenes will be showcased at the Festival of Nativities to be held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Minot this Saturday.

The public is invited to the free event from 6-8 p.m. in the church’s gymnasium, the Minot Stake Center, at 3740 Crossing Street, near the new Trinity Hospital campus. People may come and go during the open house-style event.

There will be musical entertainment throughout the evening, with free refreshments and treats. There will be a children’s room with an activity children can make and take home, activities to play and lessons on the meaning behind various Christmas ornaments.

The earliest known Nativities, featuring figurines representing Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, date back to the fourth century.  While there will not be any ancient Nativities at the upcoming festival, there will be Nativities from around the world.

One creche or Nativity belongs to Raena Tonini, who purchased several traditional Brazilian Nativities when she lived there 34 years ago. 

“Unpacking the Brazilian Nativity reminds me of the unifying effect that Christmas has on Christians in particular, but also in the world in general,” Tonini said. “Because this Nativity is made of clay, I handle it a little more carefully and with a little more reverence than some of the others in my collection. Displaying my Nativities in my home brings the Spirit of Christ in a visual way. I am reminded of this glorious event that the world celebrates.”

Rachel Robbins, who will have a handmade Nativity on display, said she loves creating and repurposing items.

“I created this Nativity in 2020 from cereal boxes. As I was creating this Nativity, the pieces weren’t coming together until I decided to create baby Jesus first and build everything else around him. Everything else fell into place after that,” she said. “I love this because it reminds me of the parallel it makes to life. When I take the time to put Christ first in my life, the other needed pieces in my life more easily fall into place.”

Bishop Aaron Grames explained the motivation for hosting the festival with the two other congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Minot.  

“The purpose of having a Nativity in our homes is to remind us of the Savior and of his love. We hope that this display, together with traditional Christmas music, will bring hope and peace to those who attend.  Over time, our vision is that this becomes a Minot Christmas tradition, which would include music and collections from our local Christian denominations. Hopefully, it will expand to the point that it must be held at the Municipal Auditorium or even the fairgrounds.”

Nativity festivals have been popular in western states where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a larger presence, but this will be a first for the Minot church. 

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