Two Nativities for Emilee: A Chronology of the Biblical Christmas Story

Nativity play
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Packer with snowy illustrations. After Christmas they learn how perfect some of the gifts were. Includes a spot-the-difference activity and a Nativity coloring page. Also includes a finding activity. Includes a craft to create a Christmas ornament. Eliza says a prayer that they will find a place to sleep. Includes a simple counting activity. Includes some interesting facts about Temple Square at Christmastime.

Click here to download ornaments. Includes costume and prop ideas. The final challenge in the Family History Mystery series.

Cultural depictions of the Nativity of Christ

Includes five speaking parts. Includes instructions to make shadow box puppets. You may want to involve extended family, neighbors, or ward members as well. Afterwards, serve your favorite Christmas treat. Family Home Evening Idea: Giving to Others at Christmas Instead of writing a list of what you want this Christmas, write a list of meaningful gifts you could give.

Can you think of someone lonely who might appreciate a nice letter? Choose the best gift-giving ideas on your list and follow through with them in the coming weeks. Why does the Christmas season seem to make people feel so happy? The original English word for apricot, abrecock , is a direct transliteration of the Arabic al-barquq.

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Fig is from the Latin ficus , which derives from an older Canaanite name. The names read like a chronology of East-West relations through the ages. The spices in a Christmas pudding may not grow in Bethlehem, yet in some ways they are the most distinctively local ingredients.

The Nabataeans dominated the spice trade for a thousand years; they, along with the Idumaeans or Edomites , were one of two proto-Arab groups that settled in Palestine before the Persian era. Both groups were semi-nomadic shepherds and livestock breeders. However, as early as BCE, the Nabataeans began to roam much further than rival tribes thanks to a talent for finding, using, and storing water in inhospitable conditions.

This laid the basis for an astonishing trading network: the Spice Route. The Nabataeans developed trade routes that stretched southwards to encompass India, Ethiopia, and Yemen and upward to their warehouses on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy. The Spice Route, in turn, spawned cities founded by allies and rivals of the Nabataeans as way stations, customs houses, and markets.

Everyone wanted to profit from the trade.

In Palestine, this was not limited to spice, sugar, and incense. At some point in the first millennium BCE, the Bethlehem area began to take the shape of an urban center after the construction of an early aqueduct. But it was only with the construction of a far more ambitious aqueduct, under Greek rule around BCE, that the town of Bethlehem was born, making it one of the more recently established towns in the region.

Bethlehem is set among water-rich hills at the edge of the desert. It is perfect farmland for orchards, not wheat. A history of Bethlehem should be able to answer the question: Was Christ born in this town? The most compelling evidence in favor is that pilgrims began visiting Bethlehem within a hundred years of his life, perhaps even within living memory of his crucifixion, and certainly close enough to establish a strong collective memory.

The counterargument is that the gospel accounts are hard to square with each other and seem designed to establish a connection to the legendary David, the nomadic shepherd boy who rose to become a king. If it is impossible to come down on one side or the other, the Christian Gospels of Matthew and Luke nevertheless display a familiarity with the first-century city of Bethlehem that makes them invaluable historical accounts of the town.

The Gospel stories tell us that Bethlehem was a livestock market: the first people to greet the infant Christ are shepherds. The Bedouin sold their sheep for meat and the wool for processing into yarn. Thanks to Dead Sea chemicals, Bethlehem became a center for a range of icky processes, from cleaning to fulling and dyeing. It is likely that Bethlehem grew up around a sheep market, a fact reflected in the connection to David.

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The idea that David is a sheep grazer is not peripheral to his story; it is central. This connection to sheep and shepherds suggests that the name Bethlehem may be Arabic rather than Canaanite: Beit Lahm , the House of Meat. The ambiguity between the House of Bread and the House of Meat is reflected in my Christmas pudding, which contains both flour and grated suet, or rendered kidney fat. Suet has a high melting point and only begins to liquefy when the egg-and-flour batter has come together to bake.

Part 2: Suggestions for Celebrating

As the flecks of suet melt away, they leave air pockets that create a lighter texture, while the warm fat moistens the otherwise dry dough. In a Christmas pudding, at least, meat and flour become indistinguishable. The heavy dough cannonball that forms the essential architecture of a Christmas pudding is based on savory porridges that medieval peasants would cook up by boiling meat and grain in a muslin bag suspended in a cauldron of boiling water.

By the Victorian period, the Christmas pudding had become the centerpiece of the great national holiday, a celebration of family life. The British have always celebrated the unusual resemblance between their national pudding and a cannonball.


The couple had married the previous February and had their first child eight months later in November Their first Christmas saw the blending of German and British traditions, with the introduction of the German fir tree. In Palestine, this new Anglo-German friendship led to the creation of a joint Lutheran-Anglican bishopric in Jerusalem, and though the period of cooperation was brief, English and German Protestants substantially reshaped Palestine, supported by a keen audience back home ready to buy books and photographs and paintings, and fund the projects of evangelical missionaries, many of which verged on the lunatic.

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The Victorians pioneered biblical archaeology as a theoretical sideline to the broader imperial project. The earliest and most famous book on the archaeology of Palestine was by a churchman: Arthur Stanley, the dean of Westminster. Sinai and Palestine told the story of his pilgrimage over Christmas and New Year, —, and was such a huge success that it resulted in the British government establishing the Palestine Exploration Fund PEF.

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The surveys carried out by the British army at the behest of the PEF were particularly helpful when Britain invaded Palestine in The PEF portrayed itself as a modern, scientific project, but while Dean Stanley enjoyed hobnobbing with Darwinians, biblical archaeology was far closer in spirit to the Creationists than to Darwin-inspired scientists. The archaeologists it employed arrived in the country believing they knew what they would find, if they looked hard enough.

Every field survey, every trench, every shard of pottery was merely a detour in pursuit of the stories they knew from Sunday school classes. However long the journey, they believed they would eventually get back to the world created by God and given to Abraham, Moses, and David.