Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Boy angel costumes

It's that time of year again when we look out the tea towels and dressing gowns* and dress up little girls as fairy princesses angels.

But why the little girls? Despite all the costumes and cards, angels in the Bible are not fairies. Or Disney princesses. Or even gently inspirational people.

In the Bible, angels are men**. God's messengers and warriors. Sometimes they ride in chariots of fire. And they're definitely not twee & sissy. 

If we believe the account of Jesus' birth is true, not just a traditional seasonal story, should we not be portraying what the Bible actually says - and therefore have the angels acted by boys?

This, of course, causes a problem. I want the wee boys in my Sunday School class to think being an angel in the nativity is a privilege - not an insult! 

So you need to teach them what an angel is. Last year our Sunday School had just been learning about Elijah and Elisha and the chariots of fire, which was ideal, as I could really play up the 'some angels are God's warriors' thing even before we started talking about Christmas. Make sure they know the angels that appeared above Bethlehem were the heavenly army (that's what 'host' means.)

You also need to have a costume that your nativity angels can be proud to wear, so they (and their parents) don't feel they're playing a 'girl's part'. 

Here's our boy angel costumes from last year. They were very popular!

Gabriel and the angel that came to the shepherds.
  • Tunic - Large white man's T-shirt. 
  • Breastplate - metallic bubble wrap. I got the gold years ago. Silver is easier to get - it's sold as insulation! Better than cardboard as it will last for years and won't crease.
  • Gold/silver elastic for breastplate straps.
  • Flame (optional) cut from orange opalescent sticky plastic. 
  • Belt and headband - For the two main angels I used shiny flame-coloured dress fabric I couldn't resist! To avoid sewing, shiny ribbon works well too - I used gift wrap ribbon for the heavenly host.
  • Sword - main angels had swords from a £ shop - heavenly host had newspaper swords wrapped in foil. (edit - see here for another sword idea)
For speed (when dressing large numbers of hyper children in minimal time), tunic & breastplate are designed to be put on all at once: 

Beforehand, breastplate is safety-pinned to T-shirt, then gold elastic tied to pins and crossed at back. Elastic is pinned on shoulders and under arms. 

Then only the belt and headband need tied on separately, and the sword stuck in the belt. They were strictly instructed not to remove the swords during the play, with promises of being allowed to play with them afterwards :-) 

Boy angel extras, with view of crossed over elastic on back.

*Not if I can help it, but that's a whole other post on what first century people actually wore. 

** At least, when appearing in human form they appear as men whenever gender is specified. That's not to say there might not be female ones we don't know about (but we know Gabriel appears as a man). They may of course be genderless in reality - certainly they're asexual.

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