NOTE: this post is the 2016 list. for the 2017 list (now with 77!), click here.
This list started with a simple dozen weird nativities, several years ago. Each year the list has expanded; and in recent years that expansion has primarily come from people sending me nativities (this is awesome and annoying also, just like many of these nativities). Last year I had at least a hundred people send me that freaking Coke Can nativity.
This year, the viral nativity is the Hipster Nativity (it’s deep in the post, with the new additions for 2016). Funny thing is that even though it’s been sent to me by about 30 different people, I first saw it when its creators reached out to me, asking to be included in this year’s list! That was a first, and made publishing an updated list this year something of a non-negotiable.
I have one main rule for inclusion (other than that the nativity has to be weird or horrible or interesting or odd): I only include nativities that were made as nativities. (Otherwise this list would be three times longer!) I’ve even pulled a few classics off the list this year since they didn’t fit my rule.
So, here we go!
The Kitty Cat Nativity. Makes me want to cough up a hairball.
The Nativity Kitchen Timer (ding-ding! baby jesus is born!):
Yeah, the Cat Nativity is probably worse. But these Dogs ain’t much better…
This one is a craft kit, using marshmallows to make a S’mores Nativity. Yum.
This isn’t a whole nativity set, but there are other pieces available. This Mouse Drummer Boy is just about as confusing as a bit of kitschmas junk can get.
When searching for tasteless nativity sets online, it doesn’t take long for one to stumble onto multiple versions of bears…
This Rubber Duckie Nativity has to be right up there in the “worst” section of cheesy nativity sets…
Lotsa Santa nativity sets and pieces out there, but this one is a bit disorienting. Is the holy family IN Santa’s bag? Or does Santa have an nice appliqué of the Holy Family on his bag of gifts? And, what can the letters in Santa be re-arranged to spell?
If cats, dogs, and teddy bears weren’t enough, how ’bout penguins!?
Sure. Snowmen. Shouldn’t be a surprise.
Ah, the Veggie Nativity. I debated on this one, because my kids loved Veggie Tales back in the day. But the baby carrot pushed me over the edge into including it.
This nativity — well, i just don’t even know how to describe it. Clowns? modern art? The baby Jesus seriously looks like something out of a circus or a John Waters movie.
Oh, the animals. I suppose, while i think the Dog Nativity and Cat Nativity are somehow explainable as something people WAY too “into” those particular animals might display, this Chicken Nativity is just a bit beyond my comprehension as a purchasable — nay, displayable — holiday trinket.
You know those people who have those geese on their porch? Yeah, them. And they put a cute little goosey costume on their porch-goose to mark every season? Yeah, those people. This costume set is made for those people. Or, to clarify, for those who actually have TWO of those geese already. Sigh. I’m guessing the rubber ducky baby is “not supplied” (not to mention zoologically impossible).
What better expresses the spirit of the incarnation than owls? I found these in an online cavalcade of nativities, where the comment was: Whoooo is the Son of God? Whooooo?
Yes, I give you, the Naked Troll Doll nativity. Eesh. Feh.
The Irish Nativity, where the 3 Irish wise guys have clover, gold and Guinness:
The most viral nativity from a few years ago… the Meat Nativity (yes, bacon and sausage):
And, why not the Butter Nativity:
The Cupcake Topper Nativity. holy and yummy all at once!
The Pig Nativity. Oink-vey: certainly not kosher…
The Mary-and-Josesph-as-Kids Nativity. This one is mildly disturbing.
In keeping with our current cultural fascination with all things zombie, I give you the Etsy craftiness of: the Zombie Nativity. Full disclosure: after this collection blew up online a few years ago, my business partner, Adam McLane, bought me this one as a Christmas gift. It now sits proudly in my home. and my interactions with the creators were just lovely (they “get it”).
The Nativity Carved out of Spam! (Thanks, Adam!)
The Shotgun Shell Nativity. What a blast (get it!?). Perfect for your redneck Christmas, I suppose.
The Peg Doll Nativity. Other than collecting some larger figures and one smaller one, and telling me it’s a nativity, this one doesn’t exactly scream “manger”.
The Mice Nativity. Say goodbye to the cookies you left out for Santa.
Um, the official description is “Folk Nativity“. But i’m pretty sure that’s a small 7 eleven frozen burrito with a face on it, along with two new age tree fairies, or something (btw: I had interaction with the creators of this gem a few years ago, and they’re good people).
From a nice reader in the UK (thanks, Mary!) who bothered to email this pic…
The Soggy Jesus Nativity. I’m sure there are plenty of nativities in a snow globe, where all three (or more) characters are IN the globe. But this freakish thing just has Jesus in there, with Mary and Joe staring at their baby-in-a-fishbowl. Too weird and hilarious.
Honestly, this one — the Mexican Mermaid Family Nativity — is some pretty beautiful art work, even if it is fairly strange. Thanks to Karen on flickr for allowing me to post this one.
And what I can only call the ‘Minimalist Nativity’. Props to some kindergarten art class for this one, or some very lazy community college art student.
Yeah, this one probably crosses some line. Sent to me by the creators, I give you the Halloween/Christmas Mash-up Nativity.
More animals! This time, it’s Meerkats! Hakuna matata, Jesus.
Not to be left out of the animal kingdom nativities, the Frog Nativity:
Ok. If I had a line, I’ve probably crossed it by now. I hesitated on this one, but it was suggested SO many times in recent years, and it’s from a crafty little website called tamponcrafts.com (really). Yup: it’s the Tampon Nativity:
More animals! This time it’s Moose (meese? mooses?).
Robin, the creator of this Soap Nativity, sent it to me. I suppose the birth of Christ has something to do with getting us all squeaky clean.
I love this one: three wise-men cheers for the Color Nativity!
What’s more fun that a puzzle? I’ll tell you what: little puzzles made out of eraser stuff. And then–in case that wasn’t fun enough!–make ’em a Puzzle Eraser Nativity set! Obvious, right, since baby Jesus came to erase your sins!?
Take, eat, this is the body of Christ MADE IN CHOCOLATE FOR YOU, nomnomnomnomnom.
A quick Google image search will turn up a wide variety of nativity-themed nesting dolls. But I got a little chuckle out of the idea of the sheep being inside baby J on this one (alert reader Alison pointed out that “maybe that’s the ‘Lamb of God’!”):
Really, how did this list of wild and weird and wonderful and horrible nativities get to this ripe old age and NOT have a Gingerbread Nativity?? Just like the nesting dolls, there are hundreds (homemade and not) in a quick google image search. Here’s one of ’em:
Speaking of gingerbread… just in case you’re hoping to communicate “WE ARE SO CUTE YOU MUST LOVE US” to your neighbors, here’s a Gingerbread Yard Art Nativity (I’m sure the word “art” is used merely for reference in that description):
What can I say: the world thanks Etsy artist thepinkkoala for finally building a bridge of peace, ending the rancor brought on by the scopes monkey trial. Now Christians and Darwinists can hold hands whilst viewing this Monkey Nativity set:
I’m salivating as I post this one, the Fondant Nativity, from Etsy wonder craft rosy. Jesus and dessert: Two of my favorite things!
You saw the Snow Globe Nativity above with only baby Jesus in the globe, right? Well, a lovely and alert reader sent me a photo of this fantastic piece of awesomeness she saw at a thrift shop. Yup, this time the snow globe is only on mary’s head. It’s like a space helmet! HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
And here I have to confess: this nativity is amazing. I want. I already have one on the list called the “Minimalist Nativity,” so i’m going to be forced to call this the “Minimalist Balls Nativity.” Seriously, this bit-o-brilliance makes it pretty clear that the nativity is iconic (btw: here are step-by-step instructions for making this one):
There are so many nativities that try to incorporate Santa in some way. But this Father Santa Nativity takes things to a whole ‘nother level.
Unvirtuous Abbey, on FB, was the source of this confused Frankenstein Nativity.
This has to be one of the strangest and most disorienting nativities on the whole list. I call it the Frog Belly Nativity, and it leaves me with more questions than answers, to be sure. But, hey, if this connects with your soul, you can get your own at The Frog Store.
Holy cow, it’s a nativity. Confused? Me too. The Holy Cow Nativity is available as a Christmas ornament for your mediations on beef and spirituality.
Nativity Chess Set. Seems pretty obvi, right?
Three truths about this Paper Mache Nativity:
1. I don’t remember where I got it (I think someone sent it to me; but I don’t have notes on it).
2. I’m not really sure what’s going on in it.
3. It scares me, just a little bit, in an Aliens-want-to-eat-your-soul sort of way.
The Peanut Nativity reminds me of a lame craft from Christian summer camp. Sorry, peanuts. And sorry, good summer camps with your brilliant craftiness.
Food-related nativities are fun, apparently. And the Radish Nativity has an interesting story. Sent to me by Christy, a missionary in southern Mexico, who writes: My husband and I work in Southern Mexico. Every December 23, people from all over flock to Oaxaca City, Mexico to the Noche de Rabanos (Radish Night) celebration. There are always some lovely nativities painstakingly carved out of giant red radishes. Sure. Radishes. Because they’re red, maybe?
My friend Josh snapped a pic of this Woodland Creatures Nativity at a Christmas store in NC. Oh, Deer! (Note: Santa in the background sorta ticked me off. Go away, Santa, back to your freaking chimney.)
How did I get all the way to 2015 without a Salt and Pepper Nativity in the list? Yup, it’s the reason for the seasoning.
This is one of my new favorites: the Super Minimalist Nativity. Created by French artist Émilie Voirin, who says, “The holy scene that has been broadly reproduced is here recognizable by the names only, giving free rein to people’s imagination.”
People have sent me dozens of nativity scenes cobbled together with independent superhero dolls. But this one was actually made as a nativity, with Baby J in a wee Superman costume! Finally, a real Superhero Nativity. (Haven’t found a source for this one yet.)
I don’t think the creators of this nativity intended to make something that looks like the Star Wars Jawa. So I’m calling this one the Unintentional Jawa Nativity.
New to the list this year!
sure, a driftwood nativity. this crafty nativity was sent to me by greg turner, who took the pic.
How ‘about a Haitian coconut nativity. I mean, make nativities out of what ya got, right? (Thanks to Dave Mahar for sending this one.)
Why not play games with your nativity? You can with this Dominos Nativity (photo sent by Mark Eades).
OK, someone who said he has a very “bah-humbug” feeling about this season put all that feeling into his creation of the Negativity Nativity. Wow.
Can’t say I’m a big fan of the Gnome Nativity. But to each his own!
More than one of my Canadian friends send me this shot of the Canadian Nativity. It’s kind, apologetic, and loves poutine.
Here it is: the viral nativity of 2016. I give you: the Hipster Nativity (also called the Millenial Nativity). Gotta give the creators props for putting thought into this baby.
Not really sure what to call this one. I’m going with Road Trip Nativity. Good times.
I’m surprised it took me until now to find a nativity honoring the Day of the Dead. Well, here you have it:
And last but not least this year, a pinto bean nativity cutely named Holy Frijoles!
check out bohemian rhapsody re-written as “bethlehemian rhapsody” (so totally fun!).
also check out this awesome take on the real christmas story, as if it played out on facebook, and this fantastic imagining of the nativity story played out on a a wide variety of social media.