El Nacimiento on display in La Casa Cordova is a traditional Mexican nativity scene, an artistic expression originating in Colonial Mexico. For centuries, celebrations of Mexican families have created joyful and colorful Nacimiento displays in their home as a central part of the Christmas celebration.
The largest and longest-running Nacimiento in Southern Arizona, this exhibition is an elaborate and very special version of this cultural inheritance. In an intricate arrangement of hundreds of miniature figures, it combines the symbolism of the Spanish Colonial Catholic Church with the simplicity and faith of everyday existence in rural Mexico. Some of the scenes are from the Christmas story of the Bible; others show traditional Mexican village life with an accuracy that extends even to the tiny replicas of kitchen utensils in the country dwellings. The glow of a myriad of tiny lights binds the multifaceted collection of scenes into a magical fantasy world.
The installation of this beautiful Christmas vision is a labor of love. For many years, Maria Luisa Tena devoted months of loving care each year to preparing and arranging the Nacimiento in memory of her mother. The installation at the Museum is exactly how Maria Luisa lovingly created it herself. Thanks to this devotion, an age-old Mexican family custom is preserved and shared annually with visitors who respond with wonder and delight!