Nativity scenes and Christmas songs

Here’s some holiday fun…

“Slate.com”:http://www.slate.com/id/2180082/ has an illustrated look at how the nativity scene has evolved.

It opens:

There are many quasi-secular (though laden with holiday aura) Christmas symbols that do pass the censors, from Christmas trees (a German tradition, with pagan roots), to giant candy canes, to Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa and his sleigh. But the nativity scene is not remotely secular. It is a 3-D representation of the holiest of holy moments in the Christian tradition—the birth of Christ, in a stable (or cave, or ruins, or a public square, if you look at some Renaissance depictions of the event), in Bethlehem, surrounded by Mary and Joseph and a crew of humble farm animals, cheered by angels, heralded by a star.

And “InterfaithFamily.com,”:http://www.interfaithfamily.com/arts_and_entertainment/movies_theater_tv_and_music/The_Jews_Who_Wrote_Christmas_Songs_2007.shtml a website for interfaith families, has a quirky look at the 25 most popular holiday songs of 2007. Most of them are pop-Christmas songs and many of them were written by Jews.

Number one? “Winter Wonderland.” (Supposedly, one of the two co-writers, Felix Bernard, was Jewish.)

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.