Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that Christmas festivities have been polluted by consumerism and suggested that assembling the Nativity scene in the home is an effective way of teaching the faith to children.
Nativity scenes are a common sight in Italian homes around Christmas time, and in an annual tradition children came to St. Peter's Square bearing Nativity figures of baby Jesus for the pontiff to bless.
"In today's consumer society, this time [of the year] is unfortunately subjected to a sort of commercial 'pollution' that is in danger of altering its true spirit, which is characterized by meditation, sobriety and by a joy that is not exterior but intimate," the pope said in his traditional Sunday blessing.
"Assembling the Nativity scene in the home can turn out to be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith to pass it on to one's children," Benedict added.
"The Nativity scene helps us contemplate the mystery of the love of God, which is revealed to us in the poverty and simplicity of the grotto in Bethlehem."