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date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The nativity scenes discussed in this chapter reveal the eloquence of material culture as a contemporary agent, as a medium for interrelating material and immaterial dimensions, and as a historiographical source of relevance for researchers today. This chapter focuses on nativity scenes in late nineteenth-century Santiago de Chile as objects that hold special significance for religious communities that, through the performative ritual they enhance, provide access to an immaterial realm of sacred historical allusion or reenactment. To this end, the chapter examines in detail the different elements that come together to inform this work: the crèches, the ritual’s participants, and the late nineteenth-century newspapers that serve as sources for these practices. The focus is on the public celebration of Christmas, and it shows how rituals of Christmas celebration using nativity scenes, among other performative practices in the public sphere, worked as agents of social cohesion.

Keywords: nativity scenes, Christmas, Santiago de Chile, performative practices, religious rituals, religious objects, devotion

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