I’ve added a few things to my altar to Yule-ify it a little now. There’s some ivy above it, a little wooden Christmas tree, a Yule-themed pentacle, and finally, a Nativity set.
I imagine a lot of people will think it’s strange that I have such a Christian symbol of a nativity set on my altar this year, so I thought I’d write a little about it.
This nativity set was given to me by my parents this year – they actually have loads of nativity sets and they wanted me to take one of them. On top of this obvious sentimental value, I’ve always loved this nativity set; it’s carved out of stone and is based on Viking figures. The figurines are so beautiful, and remind me a little of Japanese dousojin figures as well. The set really reminds me that at one time, ordinary people did practise Christianity alongside the old ways, without any conflict.
The figures of Mary and Joseph are so simple and beautiful that I plan to use them after Christmas as God and Goddess figurines, replacing my smaller ones that are repainted Hina Matsuri dolls (I’ll probably start using these as Hina dolls again). I’ll only put out the ox, ass and Baby Jesus figures out at Christmas time. I personally see nothing wrong with appropriating figures from one religion (especially figures that look so generic anyway) to use for sacred purposes in another; people throughout history have always done this, such as the figures of Kannon that Japanese Christians would venerate as Mary, or the Celtic Goddess Brigid becoming St Brigid in Christianity. It reminds us that all religions are connected.