It is widely supported that the wise men were not present at the time of Jesus' birth. (ie. What is the basis for the belief that the wise men did not arrive in Bethlehem until several months after the birth of Jesus?). However I only 'learned' of this quite late in my America/Protestant EFCA upbringing.
I've been perplexed since as to why the concept of wise men present during Jesus' birth appears to be propagated by Christians during Christmas1; the symbolism is common in Chistian paraphernalia/decorations, yearly 'Away in a Manger' plays mix shepherds/wise men, and such stories are [all too often] presented as 'truth' during such time;
Is the placement of the wise men at nativity scene common among churches that observe a 'nativity scene' Christmas?
When did the now 'traditional' nativity scene configuration become widespread? Was such tied to a religious (or cultural) movement? e.g. was there a Christian book that made such popular?
1 I realize that celebration of Christmas is very faith/church/culture specific and most such 'traditional' practices are not biblical-based. I also understand (and respect) that many Christians do not celebrate Christmas; or do not celebrate it in this manner.
I'm not looking for a defense, justification, or opinion of such, nor am I looking for a 'History of Christmas' except as such is immediately relevant to this particular perpetuated belief/story.