CALNE, in Wiltshire, has broken the Guinness World Record for the largest living nativity scene in the world. More than 1200 people in traditional costumes recreated the birth of Christ in the town, on Saturday, breaking the previous record set by 1039 volunteers in Utah, in the United States, in 2014.
Calne Town Council and the Bible Society joined forces to bring together 1254 volunteers from the community to play shepherds, Wise Men, and even cattle. An amateur dramatic group, the Calne Players, provided Joseph, but a resident, Sarah Dawkins, was chosen for Mary. Her three-month-old son, Sebastian, played the baby Jesus.
The nativity took place on the Green, in front of about 7000 onlookers. The Team Rector of Marden Vale, the Revd Bob Kenway, opened the event with a prayer.
The record attempt was the idea of the Head of Media and Communications for the Bible Society, Rachel Rounds. She lives in Calne, and is married to the Mayor, Tom Rounds. “Breaking the Guinness World Record has been amazing,” she said. “Bible Society wants to bring the Bible to life for everyone — and we did that.
“The people of Calne — schools, pubs, the laundrette, and all the churches — came together to create a Bible-based retelling of the nativity story. Schoolchildren read out the nativity story from the book of Luke, which meant that thousands of people in the town square, and up on the Green, heard the true Christmas story.”
The chief executive of the Bible Society, Paul Williams, said: “People of faith and no faith turned up to celebrate. They had great fun, broke the world record, and, we hope, brought the Bible to life.”
Archbishop Temple School, a C of E secondary school in Fulwood, is among the previous record-holders: its nativity scene, on 18 December 2013, involved 898 characters (News, 4 January 2014). They were beaten by Utah a year later.