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The Grecian Temple Nativity

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A rare vintage "theater" paper nativity in the form of a Greek temple …

Classical columns support a pediment emblazoned with Gloria in Excelsis Deo! — the Grecian Temple Nativity. 

Often, paper nativities were issued in many variations, but one suspects that the cell-block manger look just might be a modern addition — a new Czech edition of a rare vintage nativity. 

Having grown up in the shadow of the Parthenon — not to mention that of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia — the sight of a classical column stirs my heart.

So you can imagine that the sight of this unusual crèche — a soaring Grecian Temple façade housing the Nativity — got me really excited.

Twin stone columns on tall bases and decorated with fluted capitals support a pediment emblazoned with the words, Gloria In Excelsis Deo! Llilies bloom on the left, and palms surround the temple façade and soar over the roof, their leaves draping over the slanted attic.

A six-pointed star — attached with fine wire so it will pivot out of harms way when the paper nativity folds — shines down from the keystone of the arched front.

Three Gothic windows backed by purple cellophane are the sole decoration of the stark manger walls.

The Nativity is pictured on just one layer, Magi standing and on bended knee at the left, Mary and Joseph and a kneeling boy attending to the Newborn Child on the right.

It didn't matter that the passing of the decades had taken its toll on this vintage paper nativity. I knew that, one day, I could make the water stains and torn areas disappear in order to share it with you.

Even though I have been on the lookout for a Grecian Temple Nativity in better condition, I have yet to find one — anywhere. Even my friend Celso Rosa, who's a veritable hound in the hunt for vintage nativities has not come upon one.

So my heart did skip a beat when I thought I had spotted one on the Internet (see photo, above left). Alas, is a so-called "reprint," and gone are the Grecian Temple Nativity's glorious cellophane Gothic windows, the Bethlehem Star that has come to rest on arch the keystone and can pivot out of harms way when the nativity is folded, and the image quality of my vintage original.

The most incongruous element of this new edition? The manger walls — as if the loss of the Gothic windows wasn't reason enough for sadness from a true crèche lover, the manger now resembles a cell-block. (See for yourself, above, left).

Paper nativities, of course, were issued in many, many, many variations, and it could be that the cell-block construction was an original iteration. But in this case one wonders — and doubts…

The Grecian Temple Nativity is available as a Premium Download and Printed Sheet

I spent many hours restoring the vintage original from the Crèchemania Collection before I could share it with you.

Now the columns show no flaking of paint, the palms have no missing branches, the Gothic windows can be accented with cellophane, and the star shines down from the keystone of the arch.

Three 13 x 19 quality Printed Sheets accomodate the size of the vintage original (12.25 x 15.5 x 4 inches).

And for easy of printing at home, the Premium Download version will print on letter-sized paper producing a smaller (6.75 x 8.5 x 2.25 inch).

The Grecian Temple Nativity Combo includes both Printed Sheets and Premium Download — at a special price.


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