I loved the Christmas cards we had when I was young. Many illustrations seemed to have an almost magical quality to them. The cards I enjoyed the most were those that had images of snowy scenes. I especially liked the cards that had an illustration of a snow-covered cosy cottage which hinted at past, idyllic Christmases. These nostalgic scenes are completely foreign to the mostly swelteringly-hot Australian Christmases that I experience each year. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed the winter scenes all the more.
Most images on the covers of Christmas cards have nothing to do with the events of the First Christmas. Even the cards that depict a nativity scene with Mary and the baby Jesus are often coloured with an artificial cosy glow and are embellished with traditional, rather than scriptural, elements. In these nativity scenes, Mary always looks beautiful and serene, and a little remote. And baby Jesus is invariably sound asleep. There is a pervading sense of contentment and peace in these Christmas card illustrations that may have been completely foreign to the Holy Family all those years ago.
In this series for Christmas, I look at the story of Jesus’ incarnation as depicted in illustrations typically found on Christmas Cards and in religious art, and I compare these traditional images with what Matthew and Luke wrote about in their Gospels. Part 2 »
© 8th of December 2010, Margaret Mowczko