There is no uniform way to celebrate the birth of Christ.
More traditional methods of singing, praying and attending church are accessible in several locations in the North Georgia area. But it’s not everywhere or every day that individuals can find a live-action representation of the Christmas season.
The live-action Christmas celebration at Corinth Baptist Church on Thompson Bridge Road goes beyond a simple live Nativity. The church members recreate the entire town of Bethlehem.
“It is unique,” church member Lois Reed said of the church’s upcoming “Road to Bethlehem” performance.
The “churchwide event” invokes every aspect of a traditional performance with sets depicting the Biblical time and church parishioners clad in costumes, portraying King Herod, angels and the townspeople of Bethlehem. Patrons will see each element as they drive through the display on the church’s property.
“We try to get everybody in the church involved,” Reed said. “It started out as a choir event, but it took more than just the choir to do that much.”
The journey behind the church’s main building is meant to mimic the journey Mary and Joseph took before arriving at a stable in Bethlehem where Mary gave birth. The presentation is adorned with different messages, alerting viewers to specific scripture references.
“They have sayings up along the way, so you know what that particular area represents,” Reed said.
The “Road to Bethlehem” comes complete with animals in the nearby field, something the North Georgia Zoo knows a thing or two about.
The zoo loans out its animals — including camels, miniature sheep and goats and exotic chickens and ducks — to area churches as part of live Nativity performances.
“Our zoo here is a Christian-based zoo, so it’s important for us to celebrate the Nativity here in our zoo but also in our community,” said Kay Dunlap, an employee at the Cleveland-based facility.
Dunlap said the most popular animal the zoo provides is by far the camel. While the holiday might not have the same meaning for four-legged creatures, even they know what it means to indulge in the holiday spirit of fellowship.
“(The animals) really enjoy being out there with the crowd, with people, and having the attention, getting some love from everybody,” Dunlap said. “I think they really enjoy it.”
The animals are also always a hit with young children and families.
“It’s way better than the plastic figures,” Dunlap said. “(The kids) get really excited, everybody gets to pet it, and they have a cool feel for what (the Nativity) really looked like.”
Members of the younger generation may get the most excited about interacting with a sheep or camel, but for those who have celebrated more than a handful of Christmases, the culmination of the “Road to Bethlehem” celebration is the best part of the whole experience.
“I think probably the manger scene is my favorite, because after all, that is what it’s all about,” Reed said.