Many church communities, and even households, have a long tradition of lovingly arranging nativity scenes for contemplation at Christmastime. This year, one such tradition is celebrating it’s twenty-fifth anniversary, and the organizers have really gone to town, creating a show that rivals any we’ve ever seen. Between December 1st and 5th, Bay Area residents are treated – entirely free of charge – to an abundant array of creches from throughout the world.The display areas span many rooms, and cover creche interpretations from all over the globe. Some of our favorites hailed from Europe, Russia and the Americas. Some were very simple, others were intricate, and included ‘fire’ and real, flowing water. The exhibits ranged in style from an antique black Madonna to a quite modern Scandinavian design, and included simple folk art as well as highly crafted artisan works. Some of the creches felt delightfully new, at once foreign and familiar, such as the holy family from Tiacquepaque, Mexico with charming, yet strange halos.When we visited, on the first day of the exhibit, we were serenaded by two harpists, and noticed a nativity marionette show in one of the rooms, for anyone young at heart. Care was even taken in the presentation space around each creche, and the overall effect was joy embodied. It was beautiful to contemplate all the many ways that the baby Jesus is envisioned, and all the many loving hands who were involved in each creche display, from the artist to the people who placed the creche so that others could see and rejoice. Whoever visits will not soon forget the experience, and will probably have a hard time choosing a favorite.
The exhibit is located at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 3865 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA, 94303 in Palo Alto, Details are at www.christmascreche.org. There’s easy parking, far from the shopping bustle, and the attendants are all so friendly, you’ll enjoy yourself even if you’ve never done anything like it. If you’re a Bay Area resident, you might not want to miss this one. If not, seek out a creche near you, or perhaps start a tradition of your own.
Do you have a Christmas Creche tradition? If so, do you have a photo you might share with us? Next year, we hope to have a gallery of stories, images, and ideas, to share with visitors to our site.