The annual Pageant of the Nativity will be held Sunday at a historic Portland church, continuing a nearly 100-year-old Christmas tradition.

The pageant at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church has remained virtually unchanged for nine decades. It was written by the Rev. Vincent Silliman, minister of the Congress Street church from 1926 to 1938, and first staged in 1926.

Tens of thousands of people have watched the annual pageant since it began. Many families from the church have been involved in the pageant for generations.

During the pageant, performers silently act out scenes as a narrator tells the story of Jesus’ birth.

The costumes play a major role in the pageant. Some of them are made of shimmering fabrics brought back circa 1924 from what was then Palestine by the nieces of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow’s family belonged to the church, and a plaque notes the pew where they sat.

Some of the turbans were fashioned by the church’s ladies’ auxiliary from their own hats in the 1930s.

The pageant begins at 5 p.m. Sunday at the church at 425 Congress St.

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