The Three wise men ride Segways. Mother Mary flashes a peace sign — while also holding a Starbucks cup. Joseph takes a selfie.
That’s the tiny scene inside what’s been dubbed “Millennial Nativity,” one of more than 100 sets of figurines all illustrating Jesus Christ’s birth during the 13th Annual Nativity Exhibit at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center, in Rancho Palos Verdes. The exhibit ends Sunday, Dec. 22.
The displays allow the Retreat Center to celebrate the craft and story of Christmas, according to volunteer Ellen Mintz, one of the exhibit’s organizers.
And plenty of children tour the nativity scene as well, learning about faith, history and art in an interesting way. Lectures for students are age appropriate, becoming more complex each year to help explain the mystery of Jesus’ birth.
“Most people who collect Nativities do so to share them and love the opportunity to bring them to a larger group,” Mintz said. “A number of people loan us sets, so we have a different collection every year.”
One of those collectors is Louise Polksky, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident, who has collected more than 500 nativity scenes since about 1973. She bought all of the scenes locally, she said.
She loaned about 15 sets to the Retreat Center.
One of her sets is a colorful and intricate four-piece display she hand-crocheted, which includes an angel with golden wings.
Another, from Bolivia, is made of glazed pottery, with Jesus lying on a shiny leaf wearing a chullo — an Andean style hat usually made from alpaca or sheep’s wool.
The “Millennial Nativity,” meanwhile, belongs to collector Sydne Yanko-Jongbloed.
The cheeky millennial re-imagining of the nativity is among the most popular at the Retreat Center. It boasts an angel texting the birth announcement to the world, a drone hovering above like a star, baby Jesus swaddled, a cow stamped “100% organic” and a teardrop trailer parked nearby — all set on a beach.
Yanko-Jongbloed, who adds to her collection as she travels the world, said she purchased the scene years ago in San Diego.
“The unique thing about collecting nativities,” Yanko-Jongbloed said, “is how people incorporate the birth of Jesus into their cultures.”
The multicultural nativities also help the Retreat Center’s educational mission.
Kristy Koreger, a fifth-grade teacher at St. John Fisher School, in Rancho Palos Verdes, said her students have gone to see the nativities every year since kindergarten.
“The kids are so engaged,” Koreger said. “Seeing Nativities from different countries give the children such a different perspective.”
If you go
What: The 13th Annual Nativity Exhibit
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Mary & Joseph Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Road, Ranch Palos Verdes