What do you see when you look at this? It’s a minimalist, modernist take on a famous scene. But can you guess which scene is represented in this modernist wooden puzzle?
If you guessed “Nativity Scene,” you are correct! I was recently reminded of this artifact from my childhood — and when I looked it up on the internet (using the search terms “Wooden Nativity Scene Puzzle”), I was surprised to find one that so closely mirrored the set from my memory. The pieces were painted in the one I remember from my childhood. But otherwise, the shapes are pretty similar. And the general concept — nesting everything together within a broader frame that represents the Bethlehem stable — is definitely spot on.
But let me ask you this: What do you think each of those shapes represent? Some might be more obvious than others. But I’m genuinely curious to know what others’ imagination might conjure up.
Here’s how I roughly interpreted the scene as a child:
How does that jive with your imagination? What might you see differently? Are there any ways that such a puzzle could be adapted to clarify the iconography? It’s tempting to try and recreate a scene like this for the 21st Century… But there are more than eleven months before next Christmas. So we’ve got time to tinker and adjust!