What's wrong with your nativity scene?


What happens when you cross the newborn baby Jesus with The Walking Dead? Upset neighbors and a whole of of controversy—especially if you’re the couple in Ohio who built a zombie nativity in their front yard. Theirs isn’t even the strangest nativity out there: There are Etsy artisans offering nativities featuring everything from cats to Star Wars characters. There’s a rubber-duck nativity for those want yuletide during their bath time, and even an Irish nativity with three wise men bearing gifts of clover, Guinness, and a pot of gold. The 2003 Christmas film Love Actually famously featured a grade-school nativity play with multiple lobsters, Spider-Man, and a large green octopus—as if pointing out the myriad strange ways the nativity can been reimagined.

And yet these nativity scenes aren’t much more far-fetched than the traditional ones. Christmas, like many other holidays, is a social ritual informed by some mix of religion and folklore. As you’d expect, many popular depictions of Jesus’s birth are filled with inaccuracies that conflict with the story told in the Bible.