Segways and selfies … it’s the hipster nativity

Few iconic cultural events have such clear hipster readings as the birth, or startup if you prefer, of Jesus. There is the stable – an ancient form of glamping. And the candlelight – very hygge. The three wise men have the kind of names hipsters give their children – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. There are the beards. And shepherds (very now – look at the success of James Rebanks’ memoir about sheep rearing).

Still, one company has decided that nativity scenes need an overt hipster makeover. And lo!, San Diego-based company Modern Nativity has created a set featuring three wise men on Segways, bearing boxes containing gifts from Amazon Prime, Mary and Joseph taking a selfie over the baby Jesus in their stable with its solar-powered roof, and an organically reared cow eating gluten-free feed.

The company’s founder, Casey Wright, has described the response as “very polarised. It’s usually, ‘This is hilarious. I need one,’ or ‘This is sacrilegious. I hope you burn in hell,’ and almost nothing in between those two extremes.” Although Wright added, to CNBC, that what is perturbing many people is the authenticity of the hipster details. The company has had comments such as: “Segways aren’t hipster. They’re technically early-stage millennial with a tinge of east coast liberal.”

One of the more unusual nativity sets. Photograph: Oregon stores

Still, it’s good to have options. Other nativity sets have tried different takes on the scene – artist Émilie Voirin has a minimalist one, comprising wooden blocks engraved with the names of the characters, and crafts site Etsy has sets including finger puppets and knitted characters (I like the nativity set of hand-modelled clay bull terriers). Californian pastor Mark Oestreicher keeps an annual list of the oddest and funniest nativity sets on his blog – my favourite is the strangely flirtatious ceramic frog with a nativity scene in its belly. Does the frog represent the universe? Or God? It’s far more thought-provoking than wondering if Amazon really is a hipster signifier.

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