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December 17, 2012

Slate's Explainer: Why people put up nativity scenes

(Continued)

What about those nativity plays that children often perform at Christmastime? They are an obvious outgrowth of the miracle plays of the Middle Ages, but the reason children (rather than adults) perform in them isn't clear. However, it's possible the tradition stems from the Victorian Era, when Christmas was recast in America and England as a child-friendly, family-centered holiday, instead of the rowdy celebration it had been in years past.

Explainer thanks Bruce Forbes of Morningside College, the author of "Christmas: A Candid History."

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