WEST ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM – TV) – Elmira New York is fortunate to have a large number of holiday traditions that have endured for decades.

The Stempfle Star to the West, the lighted Christmas Wreath at the Hilltop Inn to the east, as well as Christmasland in Southport. Each has announced the beginning of the holiday season for generations of people in Elmira. Sadly, once January 1st rolls around each year, the lights associated with these symbols are turned off, and they fade away until the next holiday season.

There is one Elmira Christmas tradition, however, that extends the holiday season, at least, through the first few weeks of the new year.

The West Elmira Travelling Nativity is a tradition that the Schmidt family of 1061 West Water Street established back in 2008 when they moved to West Elmira. The Schmidt’s knew that they wanted a lighted display to celebrate the season in their front yard, but they wanted to create something that incorporated their Catholic faith as well.

The nativity tradition they created is unique due to the fact that it involves the cooperation of the Schmidt’s entire neighborhood. Prior to Christmas, the only figures in the nativity scene are a Shepard and his flock of ship. Mary and Joseph begin their journey in a neighbor’s yard down towards Hoffman Street to the East, and slowly travel from house to house, until they eventually arrive at the Schmidt’s nativity scene on Christmas day.

A host of angels appear at the house on Christmas day, and it is then, that the three wisemen begin their journey, house by house through this West Elmira neighborhood, until they too, eventually arrive at the Schmidt home on January 6th for the Epiphany.

In Western Christianity, the Epiphany marks the visitation of the Magi to the Christ Child. It is sometimes called Three King’s Day, or in some traditions Little Christmas.