By Annette Aubinger
ASHWAUBENON – Nativity sets were shared from over the past 50 to 80 years at Pilgrim Congregational’s Nativi-Tea held Saturday, Dec. 2.
This is the second year Sandy Challeen, Pilgrim Congregational member, gave a presentation on the timeless story of the nativity depicted through the art of peoples spanning centuries and cultures in the stories behind the story of Christmas.
It is called Nativi-Tea because along with the presentation tables were set up and decorated and there was tea before the presentation.
Challeen has been collecting nativity sets since the first year she was married.
Her sister gave her a nativity set and then her mother gave her the set she had as a child.
She started small with a few sets, and the idea of collecting sets kept on growing. She has over 100 sets.
“I feel Christmas isn’t the nativity unless you have a nativity,” Challeen said.
One year she and her husband were in Florida attending church down there and they had a program called the Nativi-Tea. Everybody from the congregation brought in their nativity sets and the gym was filled with the sets.
A woman gave a presentation of the symbolism of the figurines.
That’s how Challeen got the idea to share her sets at her church.
She came back, did research on the stories behind the sets and asked if she could put on a program.
Some church members shared their sets that day, but Challeen brought more than 50 of her own for others to see.
One of her favorite sets is acrylic, but it looks like blown glass.
Other favorite sets are a set made from volcanic ash that her sister gave her, and her mother’s set over 80 years old made of plaster of Paris.
She fells all of her sets are unique but her most unique set is the VeggieTales.
The set that came the farthest was from Mexico.
Sets are rotated from year to year, but there is one that comes out every year that she puts under the Christmas tree.
It is Mary and Joseph carrying the baby Jesus. It is hand made from fabric and each piece is 16 to 18 inches tall.
Challeen enjoys the symbolism and whole history of the nativity. She will continue to collect sets.
Her last set she just bought was this year at the Antiquarians antique show. It is a paper set from 1938 in very good condition.