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Greek Small Nativity
A simple Greek fatni from the 1950s

A small Greek fold-out fatni from the 1950s was also sold as a nativity sheet—to be cut out and assembled.

A Greek nativity sheet, republished by Astir, typical of those found in Greece in the 1950s.

Greek children didn't receive presents at Christmas. St. Basil brought them, on January 1st.

But a few lucky ones—like me—might get a creche sheet on Christmas Eve.

Of course everyone awaited for Santa Claus, I mean St. Basil, but prospects were grim.

It wasn't so much that we'd been naughty—ok, we did poach walnuts from farmer Bonora's tree—and it wasn't St. Basil, who, we knew set out from Caesarea on the 1st, on-the-dot, ladden with presents.

Our parents, you see, were poor and depended on olive oil as their cash crop. A bad winter freeze would burn the trees, destroying a crop. We were told, St. Basil could not make his way up our mountain in the snow.

Still, a creche sheet was only a few drachmas, and many parents gave them happily so that their children would have a small present.

The scene depicted here, published by Astir, is rather simple by Northern European standards, but it was not so in our eyes: all we saw was the most beautiful paper nativity there could be....

Crèchemania Collection

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