Extensive research has enabled National Christmas Center artisans to replicate the sights and sounds of the Holy Land at the time of the birth of Christ. Realistic scenes, lifelike figures and ancient artifacts combine to make this trek from "Nazareth" to "Bethlehem" a total environmental experience. Visitors step into true-to-life outdoor surroundings as they walk along winding village streets, passing under canopies of palm branches set against a dark night sky. Be transported back in time over 2000 years.
Artifacts dating from 4 B.C. set the tone at the entrance to Nazareth. Alongside gold, frankincense and myrrh, the gifts of the Wise Men, are ancient examples of ordinary household items such as pottery, oil lamps and crude, salvaged nails. The timeworn coins, including a legendary "widow's mite", were in circulation when Christ lived on Earth. The 'tear vials" of marbled green glass were used in biblical times to catch tears shed by those in mourning, then saved as precious memento of the one who was lost. This practice is mentioned in the Bible: "You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in Your bottle. You have recorded every one in Your book." Psalms 56:8, TLB
A Roman centurion, speaking in Latin, addresses the crowds, repeating Augustus Caesar's decree that citizens should report to the cities of their ancestors for the purposes of a census. From that moment on, one is drawn deeper into the past with every step taken along the cobblestone and straw-strewn paths.
Period structures, clothing, tools and utensils offer a glimpse of the lifestyle of an average citizen of the time. Animals were brought indoors at night to protect the livestock from predators and to help warm the home as temperatures dropped. Virtually no furniture was used; woven grass mats served as seating and straw-and-hide-covered lofts provided a place to sleep.
Carpenters were kept busy crafting practical
implements such as shepherd's hooks,
farming tools, bowls and ladders.
Commerce is represented in the depiction of lively trade at the caravansary, an oasis marketplace and rest stop for those weary from their rugged travels. Here, travelers could replenish their supplies, shopping or bartering for necessities such as fresh produce, dried fruits, nuts and spices, and durable goods that would carry them through the rest of their journey. A musician, surrounded by antique musical instruments, represents entertainment that also enlivened these desert oases. Hear authentic music from that time period and listen to the melodic sound of the Aramaic language being spoken.
Watch the Christmas story gradually unfold, revealing the humanity of Mary and Joseph as they endure hardship and trials, but ultimately triumph over harsh adversity. Dangers encountered in the course of their journey - harsh weather and threats by humans and animals - are represented by an area of "wilderness" that resonates with the sounds of the desert night. Be amazed as the angel appears to the shepherds as if by magic, and follow their path to behold prophecy fulfilled -
the birth of Christ,
the infant King.