In early 2015, Navidad Nativities travelled to Italy to seek out new Nativity makers around the country in hopes to bring back new artists to be introduced to the US market.  After a few exhausting days in the Tyrolean Alps, we stumbled into a shop with an amazing assortment of Nativities of the Region.  There was one collection in particular that caught our attention.  In extremely broken English, the woman at the shop asked if we would like to meet the artist who made them as it was her brother-in-law.  An hour later, we meet Heinrich Demetz, the Founder of Original Heide who took us to his workshop and museum.  That was the start of our relationship with Original Heide and the Demetz Family.

The Renaissance Nativity features the Immanuel Collection of Original Heide and is displayed within the walls of a crumbling Roman town.  At the center is a Roman Temple in ruin as the Christ Child lays in the manger.  The choice to use the ruins of Ancient Rome signifies that Christianity was built upon the fall of Rome.

Original Heide, in addition to their exceptional catalog, has crafted several custom figures for us over the last several years.  12 are featured in this collection.  There are 72 figures of the 20cm (7.9”) Immanuel Collection in this creation which is part of A.J.’s personal collection.

The Creation of the Renaissance Nativity

There is an excitement that builds as a collection grows.  With the addition of each new figure, the story comes to life.  In the case of this Heide Immanuel Nativity, the Holy Family appeared at Christmas of 2016.  That spring, shepherds and goats.

It was clear at that point that a setting was the next appropriate addition.  In the fall of 2017, Navidad Nativities was a featured exhibitor in Bethlehem, PA for the annual Friends of the Creche Conventions and the work-in-progress crumbling roman temple backdrop was first shown.

The kings and their entourage arrived next and it was clear to me that the addition would soon take over my dining room.

2018 was my first experiment with custom figures.  Repositioning gestures using current designs and changing faces on figures to avoid dopplegangers.

The Nativity was featured that fall on the cover of the Creche Herald (a quarterly publication of the Friends of the Creche) and it anchored the featured artist exhibit at Glencairn Museum as we showcased that Christmas.

2019 saw just a few additions; a custom creation of an old woman feeding 2 geese.

In 2020, more custom figures arrived, a young girl with a basket of wool, a bagpiper, a man with a greyhound, and a beautiful kneeling angel.  It was with this new shipment that it became apparent that it was time to begin a long-overdue expansion.

The base frame was built and the arrangement of figures was decided.  Each had their own featured area.  And then I sold my house.  The project was put on hold once again and the Nativity spent that Christmas on the mantle of my parent’s house.

That winter, local artist and teacher Dot Bunn asked to borrow a few figures for a Nativity Study.  That painting now hangs over my fireplace. For the full story in Dot’s words, check out the earlier blog

The summer of 2021 saw the arrival of a few new animals as well as 2 custom Roman Soldiers (one of which is kneeling in adoration with helmet under his arm).  Their addition brought me to finally finish this project.

72 figures and 5 years later, I am thrilled to be able to look at this creation every day.  I left space for one more figure that I had ordered for next year and I may just have to find a reason for 2 additional just to hit 75.

My sincere admiration to the artist at Original Heide for their commitment to their craft and their excitement to carry out the custom creations.  To see a full offering of the Original Heide Nativities, visit