This playful Brazilian presépio or nativity has 19 painted clay pieces: Joseph, Mary, Jesus in a manger, a stable with silver star, a cactus, an angel, a shepherd, three kings, a donkey, a cow, a donkey, four sheep, a rooster and the plate on which this nativity is exhibited.
Two pieces are of note: the cactus and the rooster. The rooster refers to the legend that a rooster was present in the stable where Jesus was born. Immediately after Jesus’ birth the rooster started to crow, thus announcing the divine birth to the world. The Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is known as the “Mass of the Rooster” in Brasil and certain other countries such as Spain and Bolivia. One cannot but make an additional connection with the rooster that crowed three times as Peter Denied Jesus. The cactus is a great example of inculturation. As each culture started to depict the nativity they added elements borrowed from their own experience. Whereas Germans and Austrians might add evergreens, people from more arid climates added a cactus.