For much of the world, the Nativity is THE fundamental part of Christmas, celebrated and revered. For most of America, it is an ornament and a school play.
Man, do we really have to tell you?
It is the story of Christmas. The birth of an illegitimate son to a wed, virgin mother. Pretty much the most awesome excuse for an unplanned pregnancy ever, though the woman who claimed to get pregnant from 3D porn is running the Virgin Mary a close second. Poor Joseph though. 2010 years later and people still know he couldn't get it up. So, yeah, the opposite of most kids born these days.
The founders and first fathers of Christianity had one massive problem in continuing to gain members.
Well, OK, two then.
Most of the people they were spreading the message to simply could not read, or even speak the official language of the Church. They were, if you can believe it, even more illiterate than your average Lamebook post. So how to teach the important things in a way they could understand?
And so the Nativity scene was born.
Your typical American nativity scene, if found anywhere in the house, is usually a rather sad and pathetic afterthought in the decorations, given to you by your least favorite and hairiest aunt.
The only time Americans really go for a big Nativity scene is outside. In the neverending yearly battle to one up the neighbors and provide enough light for the house to be seen from orbit.
The little thing on the left, cowering away from the light.
Nice try, guys, but you'll never beat Napoli.
D&D nerds, arise!
The downside of a nativity scene is that someone still needs to explain it. Every year. Because people are drooling morons that way.
Or zombies. We can never tell the difference.
While standing and listening to some guy monologuing about a bunch of figurines may be enthralling for a (very) small segment of the population, most people prefer their information to be painless spooned in through their eyes and ears.
Earspoons. For all your informational needs.
The Church, not being slow on the uptake when it comes to making a buck or two, understood that money flows more freely when there is some entertainment to offer. So, much like Silver Pictures did with Dungeons and Dragons, they invented a live action version. Unlike Silver pictures, their version made money. Lots of it.
The acting is about the same quality though.