The story behind a Montreal church's 'Hipster Nativity' scene
Sixty-five years after Louis Armstrong urged us to have a Yule that’s cool, a Montreal church is showing off a hipster holiday display of its own.
The nativity scene at St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal may be short on realism, but it’s attracting plenty of discussion for its unusual approach to depicting Jesus’ birth.
All of its occupants are wearing modern clothes – with Mary’s attire even being a little bit revealing – and making use of modern technology, such as the solar panels on the manger’s roof.
It’s no silent night. Joseph is gathering his family for their first Noel selfie. A shepherd is Snapchatting the whole thing.
In other nods to the 21st century, Mary is looking holly and jolly while holding a cup of Starbucks coffee, and a cow is eating what is supposedly gluten-free feed.
The Three Wise Men, meanwhile, have replaced their gold, frankincense and myrrh with Amazon Prime boxes. They’re also riding Segways, suggesting that they need to be on the move because their wisdom hasn’t been enough to land them anything more than precarious employment in the modern gig economy.
With all of these distractions available to them, none of the characters in the scene are paying any attention whatsoever to Jesus.
The scene is one of many being shown in the church’s museum over the Christmas season. Amazingly, the bizarre updating of the 2,000-plus-year-old scene is far from a one-of-a-kind item.
Two brothers from California created the Hipster Nativity Set two years ago. They produced 5,000 scenes, and then far more when the sets found unexpected popularity with consumers.
“We wanted to make it more of a conversation piece. We wanted to make it something that people could laugh at,” co-creator Corey Wright told CTV Montreal.
The set being created in 2016 may also explain why the Three Wise Men brought Jesus physical items rather than the experience gifts that are all the rage now.
People visiting the museum on Monday were diplomatic when asked for their thoughts on the modern manger, with some saying they preferred a more classic scene, but stopping short of criticizing the hipster version.
“I know they want to come into the modern age, but I don’t think it has the same effect as the original and traditional manger scene,” one woman said.
Nativity scene at St Joseph’s oratory features Joseph taking a selfie with Mary and baby Jesus, wise men on Segways carrying Amazon packages, and cattle eating gluten-free feed. Discuss. pic.twitter.com/MsUvgjecKg— Rob Lurie (@RLurieCTV) December 10, 2018
This is so ridiculous!— Marie C.Micone (@MMicone) December 10, 2018
Rumour is the three wise men are bringing baby Jesus bitcoin and avocado on toast. What a time to be alive!— Will (@IdlyMusing) December 10, 2018
No drummer! How can that be? Isn’t “the little drummer boy” the most sacred song of the holiday season?— Steven Blake (@beemrider) December 11, 2018
It’s great. But it smacks a bit of grandpa trying too hard to be “cool” to appeal to the kids.— Stephanie Myles (@StefMylesTennis) December 10, 2018
Wright said he and his brother are considering creating other unusual nativity scenes, including a zombie-themed one.