As the holidays approach, many churches, religious organisations, private schools, and cultural centres feature celebrations that include a play or re-enactment of the nativity. For such events, the actors typically need costumes that reflect the time period in which the story takes place. Costumes often include garments for Joseph and Mary, clothing for the shepherds, and robes and accessories for the wise men or magi. In some cases, buyers may need angel costumes as well. Whether the scene is large or small, involving many or few actors, buyers can find all the nativity costumes they need through various local costume shops and through online retailers, including eBay. A description of nativity costumes can make the shopping process easier for buyers.
Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is one of the centrepieces in any nativity tableau or re-enactment. Her costume traditionally features colours such as blue and white, representing her faith and purity. However, some nativity re-enactments may prefer a more historically accurate approach, dressing Mary in shades of brown or tan to represent her status among the poorer classes of the period.
A person portraying Mary needs a long, loose robe or a simple dress with a belt or sash around the waist. The Mary costume also needs a single piece of cloth to use as a head covering, since women of the time covered their hair. A light coat or robe forms a second layer over the tunic or dress. In some cases, the costume may combine the head covering and the cloak into one piece, making it easy for the actor to dress quickly. In other cases, the costume may forgo the coat in favour of a long, wide sash, draped over one shoulder. Mary's feet should be bare or clad in simple, rustic sandals.
Joseph usually stands next to Mary in his role as the earthly father figure of Jesus. In keeping with his position as a carpenter, he wears the simple garments of a tradesman. The first layer is a long tunic that reaches all the way down to his ankles. Actors can use any colour, although many depictions feature blue, grey, or brown. Over the long-sleeved tunic, Joseph wears a coat or robe, open in the front, and often several inches shorter than the tunic. The coat may have long sleeves or no sleeves at all.
For his feet, Joseph needs a pair of rustic sandals or shoes, similar to those Mary would wear. He may have a walking stick or staff to lean on. Another key element in this costume is Joseph's headgear, which is usually a single large piece of cloth that the actor drapes over the head and secures it around the temples with a rope or a band.
Most Jewish men of the biblical time period had facial hair. For historical accuracy, actors may wear a moustache or a beard or both. The beard may be of any length, depending on what the event organiser or costume coordinator prefers.
The shepherds' gear and costumes are often quite similar to Joseph's. Each shepherd needs a tunic and either a coat or a broad sash across the body. Since they spent their days and many of their nights out in the fields, shepherds typically wore sandals or rough shoes. Buyers should ensure that the costume they purchase comes with accessories such as the sandals and possibly a shepherd's crook. If the costume does not include a shepherd's crook, buyers may be able to purchase it separately or fashion one out of a long, thick stick. The traditional shepherd's crook is about as tall as the user or taller, with a wide curved part at the end.
The wise men or magi are among the most luxurious costumes of the nativity scene. According to the narrative, the wise men observed the skies and noticed a unique star in the east. They perceived it as a sign and followed it to the town where baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lodged. Upon arrival, the wise men gave the family gifts of spices and gold.
Since the magi are wealthy, educated men, their costumes need to be significantly more opulent than those of the other characters. Rich colours such as purple, red, blue, and green are appropriate for their clothing. Robes with gold fringe, sparkling artificial gemstones, tassels, and broad sashes also work well.
Many wise men costumes include crowns or shiny headgear to illustrate the elevated status of the magi. Some costumes may come with a small treasure box or an artificially ornate bottle, representing one of the gifts. Although costumes may depict the magi in different ways, any nativity costume for a wise man should have a distinct Middle Eastern or Oriental flair to its design.
Angel costumes are fairly simple. They usually involve a white robe, perhaps with a gold sash around the middle. A pair of white or gold wings and some golden sandals complete the ensemble. If buyers want to invest a little extra in the costume, they can choose one that includes a halo and other accessories such as a trumpet or a sword.
Availability of certain costumes, such as nativity costumes, may vary slightly depending on the time of year. To find a nativity costume on eBay, type in the phrase 'nativity costume' or specify which kind of costume you need, such as 'Mary nativity costume '. You can use the search filters to select your preferences for condition, price range, seller type, and other factors. Once you have made your choices, eBay eliminates any search results that do not match those specifications. If you need to extend your search beyond eBay's main website, try eBay Stores or eBay Deals.