“Additional Christmas Features Adorn Temple Square,” Ensign, Feb. 2001, 76–77
Several new Christmas features focusing on the life of the Savior were added to displays on Temple Square in Salt Lake City this past Christmas.
Set just north of the Tabernacle, a new life-sized nativity scene replaced the one that had been used since 1965. The new display gives a more realistic portrayal of life in Bethlehem at the time of Christ.
Church designers developed highly detailed, strikingly lifelike figures, incorporating research to enhance authenticity. The mannequins are representative of the peoples of the Middle East at the time of Christ, and their clothing reflects period styles.
The nativity scene has shepherds of all ages and a variety of animals. The figures are placed on a cavelike, stone backdrop representing the innkeeper’s stable. A narration of the nativity, broadcast from a nearby sound system, concludes with President Gordon B. Hinckley’s testimony of the living Christ.
A similar lifelike representation, a new diorama based on Harry Anderson’s painting Christ and the Children, was on display east of the temple. Also on display were four smaller nativity scenes, designed to reflect cultures from “the four corners of the earth,” and 1,000 hand-crafted lights floating on the reflecting pool in front of the temple.
The Conference Center was decorated for Christmas for the first time, its trees blazing with thousands of tiny lights. Hundreds of new luminarias, lanterns with backlighted silhouettes depicting scenes from the Savior’s life, were added to the Church Office Building Plaza.
More than a million people visit Temple Square each Christmas season.