27th December 2005
It’s has been a while since I posted an edition of “Jesus Junk and Christian Kitsch,” so I thought a special holiday edition would be appropriate! Now, you may be thinking that Christmas may be an easy target for a kitsch piece — and you’re right! During the holiday season kitsch is king — so much so that Christmas kitsch has even elicited its own name: Kitschmas! But here I will try not to settle for the easy targets, the commonplace pieces of Christmas kitsch available at any big box store like inflatable Santas or animated reindeer. Instead, I will try to bring you some truly bizzare Christmas fare. As you will see, an appropriate theme for this issue is the nativity scene. The nativity is truly a kitsch-magnet. It boggles the mind to think of all of the kitschy nativity scenes available in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
The Inflatable Christmas
Inflatable Christmas decorations seem to be all the rage this year and baby Jesus is not exempt. There are a number of inflatable nativity scenes on the market; here are some highlights.
Outdoor Inflatable Nativity #1
This nativity scene will certainly get the neighbours talking! Joseph looks like the nephilim of old and Mary looks appropriately iconic for a woman who just experienced natural childbirth in a stable! I’m not sure who those kids are supposed to be… shepherds perhaps?
Outdoor Inflatable Nativity #2
If you thought the last inflatable nativity scene was impresive, just look at this one — it even comes with its own stable! (sorry, lowing animals are not included) To top it off, this giant 9 foot nativity inflatable includes lights for a stunning nighttime display!
Massive Inlatable Jesus
The last two inflatables are dwarfed by this massive inflatable Jesus. This would be the sure way to attract attention! I imagine the theme of this vinyl-coated nylon marvel is something like “Jesus loves the little children.”
This inflatable comes from my native home town of Edmonton (see here). It almost looks as if kids could use Jesus’ lap as a trampoline — lap dance anyone? (OK, sorry, that was entirely uncalled for!)
Techno Jesus Nativities
Moving from the massive to the techno, who knew fibre optics and nativity scenes would make such a good team… kind of like peanut butter and jelly! There are two sets vying for your hard earned cash:
Fiber Optic Nativity Set #1
The miracle of Christmas is displayed in this exquisitely crafted poly resin, fiber optic creche. This Nativity contains transparent fibers that continually change through a virtual rainbow of colors. Lights surround the wooden stable, golden halos on Mary and Joseph and the crib of the Christ child. The complete set contains the manger with the holy family and moveable shepherd, sheep, mule, camel, ox and faux grass and straw.
Unfortuantly, it has been discontinued (see here). Too bad, so sad!
Fibre Optic Nativity Set #2
This colorful 14 inch fiber optic nativity is a must have for your Christmas dÃ©cor. Exquisitely crafted from porcelain and masterfully accented with hand painted details, this beautiful nativity contains transparent fibers that continuously change through a rainbow of colors.
This one almost looks like a mix between a nativity scene and a scene from the little mermaid — at least the halos look like shells to me!
Thomas Kinkade Nativity Tree
OK, so this one doesn’t have fibre optics, but it does have lights and music! If you can believe it, this precious item is the first-ever illuminated nativity scene Christmas tree decoration!
From the description: “This illuminated tabletop decorated Christmas tree lights up at the touch of a switch and also plays Silent Night. Given the time-intensive handcrafting involved in this Hawthorne Village exclusive, demand could rapidly exceed availability. Be one of the first to get this unique Christmas decoration and gift idea.” OK, I’ll be right on it!
From Bad to Worse…
In my books the following examples of Christmas kitsch take the proverbial cake.
Nativity Kitchen Timer
How did Joseph get to Bethlehem just in time for Mary to give birth on Christmas Day? He relied on his trusty Nativity Kitchen Timer, of course! Only $9.99 plus postage.
Nativity Belt Buckle
Talk about the “Bible belt” (haha). Now you can take the nativity with you wherever you go! Just remember to let it out a few notches before Christmas dinner!
Naked Troll Nativity
OK, these naked dolls are kind of creepy IMHO! I’m not sure why anyone would want naked troll dolls in the first place (except for Mimi Bobeck on the Drew Carey Show), let alone naked troll nativity dolls!
I’m just thankful that the Joseph doll is not anatomically correct!
If trolls aren’t your thing, then perhaps you will like this hobbit nativity scene:
Pooping Next to Baby Jesus?
OK, most nativity scenes have Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, shepherds, some animals, an angel or two, and perhaps some wise men (although they were there much later!). I guess in the Catalonia region of Spain, nativity scenes also have an object called a caganer. The caganer is a figurine representing a peasant (or at times famous people) who is squatting in the corner of the stable, trousers dropped, taking a poop!
Lest we be offended, this figure is not meant to be disrespectful. In Catalan culture the peasant represents a hope for fertility in the coming year (for more about the tradition, see here) and finding the caganer is a fun game, especially for children.
If you’re interested in adding this to your Christmas traditions (I wonder what my wife would think if I tried to add one to our nativity scene?), check out caganer.com for some interesting caganer, including the one pictured above, which is supposed to be George W. Bush.
Jesus’ Flogging Lights
If you didn’t think that Mel Gibson’s flogging of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ was a bit overdone, then you will probably want to get your very own flogging of Jesus Christmas light display for next year. Just think of the money you will save if you use LED lights!
The Twelve Days of Kitschmas
If this sort of stuff tickles your funny bone, you will want to check out the “Twelve Days of Kitschmas” over at Ship of Fools. This is their annual roundup of truly covetable gifts for Kitschmas, though they are not necessarily Christmas kitsch. They also have an interesting read about kitsch and true religion in their Christ vs. kitsch feature you may want to check out. In addition, Going Jesus has a cavalcade of nativity scenes that is worth taking a gander at (and where I got some of the above).