Ten Nativity Characters You Won’t Find in the Bible

It’s nearly Christmas, and this means that up and down the country primary school children have been acting out the ancient Christmas tale about the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s the time when your child gets to shine as they stand up on stage and perform, perhaps as Joseph, the Angel Gabriel, or renowned astronaut Tim Peake.

Er wait…that’s not quite right. There is a saying in the dramatic arts that you should “never work with children or animals”, and the traditional nativity play often encompasses the reasons why. Here are some of our favourite nativity characters who are somewhat lacking in biblical origins, but we adore their cuteness anyway.

1. The X-Factor Wannabee

young girl rock star on stage

As the children break into song there is almost always one child whose voice is heard above all others. She sings loudly and proudly. She is so pleased with herself that no one minds if she is singing out of tune, or even using the wrong words. It’s her time to shine.

2. The Nose Picker

Young boy picking his nose

That one child who sits on the very front row of the nativity scene, giving the audience the best possible view as he slips his finger into his nose and leaves it there for the duration of “Plodding Along To Bethlehem.” To perfect his performance he will then wipe it on Mary as she walks past. Just perfect.

3. The Depressed Angel

little blond girl with angel- wings is sad

She has been waiting for weeks for her big moment. She has the sparkly dress, the wings covered in glitter, and of course, the obligatory tinsel crown. But sadly, it’s all too much for this divine cherub, and instead of receiving a message of glory and holiness, the shepherds are faced with a distraught seraphim wailing that she wants to go home.

4. The Accidental Gymnast

happy boy doing gymnastics

The donkey plays a key role in the nativity. He transports the Holy Mother to the stable where she will give birth to Christ. But not before taking a dive off the stage headfirst and then landing perfectly on his feet, taking a bow, and returning to his duties.

5. The Film Director

Little girl with a clapperboard on grey background

And three wise men heard that a new king had been born, so they travelled across the desert bringing gold, frankincense and…

“But Miss, Kyle has forgotten his Myrrh! And Lola has run off the stage! Miss we need to stop the nativity and sort it out!”

6. The Napper

Two Little Farmers Asleep in the Hay

The shepherds have gathered around the back-up angel (since the original angel Gabriel has run off crying) and are ready to listen to her glorious message. Except for Max. Max has fallen asleep on one of the pretend hay bales having spent most of the previous night trying to convince his parents that he needed to stay up to practice his song “just one more time.”

7. The Astronaut

child is dressed in an astronaut costume

That one child who will only take part if he can wear his astronaut costume. Education is all about inclusion these days, after all.

8. The Stripper

Small boy taking off his tshirt isolated on a white background

Because that sheep costume is really itchy and quite smelly. And really, who needs knickers when the school hall is so warm?

9. The Audience Participant

baby girl playing with a large _soft scuptured_ Nativity Set

All of the characters have arrived to witness Mary and her new-born son – the baby Jesus. The audience are then invited to join in with a rendition of “Away In A Manger.” However, for Joseph’s toddler sibling, this is an invitation to slip from her parent’s firm grasp and run onto the stage, grabbing the baby Jesus doll and quickly legging it over the other side.

10. The Fourth Wall Breaker

Teenager girls playing a live Christmas nativity scene (the baby is a doll)

The fourth wall refers to the separation of the stage from the audience, and the idea that those on stage ignore their audience, engrossed in their on-stage reality. Charmingly, most primary school children are unaware of this concept, which is why most nativity plays are regularly interrupted with cries of “Hi Mum”, “Dad, look at my crown!” and “Can I go to the toilet please, Miss?” It wouldn’t be a proper nativity play without it.