Based strictly on the New Testament narratives, such a setup would look very sparse indeed! Besides Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in a manger, an “authentic” outdoor Nativity scene might include an unspecified number of “wise men,” an unknown number of shepherds, possibly some sheep, perhaps one camel at least, surely a donkey and/or ox (or two), an angel, and a star hanging overhead. But authenticity isn’t exactly the point. Indeed, in all likelihood the Holy Family did not shelter in a stable at all but in the lower level of a first-century rural relative’s home. Nowadays, however, centuries of linguistic obfuscation, historical speculation, popular tradition, and artistic license have made it perfectly okay to set up a Nativity scene that adheres instead to individual imagination and faith rather than Biblical accuracy. As for the non-human figurines, throughout the Christian era paintings and other artistic renderings of the Nativity have included animals found only in the artist’s native country and completely alien to the Bethlehem of Jesus’ time. For example, some African artists have included giraffes and lions in their Nativity scenes. Therefore, when setting up your outdoor Nativity scene, feel free to select the figurines that feel right to you!