A crèche is an artistic rendering of the birth of Jesus as described in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The word crèche is an old French word for manger, a feeding trough for animals. The crèche or nativity scene is one of the oldest and most sacred traditions of the Christian faith.
St. Francis ofAssisiis given credit for creating the first nativity scene and establishing the tradition. On Christmas Eve in 1223 in thevillageofGrecio,Italy, St. Francis created a “living” rendition of the birth of Jesus.
The scenes’ popularity inspired many communities throughout Catholic countries to create their own. Eventually statuesreplaced living personages in the nativity scenes although the “living” scenes still are a part of many Christmas pageants and celebrations.
Artists then began creating miniature renditions of the nativity story. As Christianity spread throughout the world, the different countries added their traditions and culture to the crèches.
The nativity display at the San Manuel LDS Church had 550 crèches from all parts of the world that were loaned by members of the Tri-Community, Redington and Tucson.
The idea for the display came from Dorothy Staggs of Oracle who was inspired by a crèche display she saw in Spokane, Washington while on a mission for the LDS church.
Staggs went around to all the senior centers in Mammoth, Oracle and San Manuel and was able to get the cooperation and trust of many in the area.
She contacted friends and church members and asked them to spread the word. “It’s best if you can to involve the community,” said Staggs. “We are all one community here.”
Staggs said her idea was to bring the community together no matter what faith and to share the real meaning of Christmas.
Some of the countries represented in the display include crèches from Uruguay, Argentina, Russia, Italy, Nigeria, Israel, Mexico, China and the Philippines. There were nativity scenes on tin boxes, pillows, wall hangings, ornaments, music boxes and paintings.
In another room, there were children’s crèches that could be handled. The kids could also make their own crèches with materials provided in the room and an instructor to help them.
The crèches have meaning to the families that loaned them to Staggs. One of the traditional nativity scenes fromMexicohas been with a family from Mammoth for 100 years, passed down from generation to generation.
There is a cardboard crèche that was made in the 1930s. Another nativity scene was made by a husband for his wife before he passed away. A woman in Oracle told her mother-in-law about the crèche display. The mother-in-law was traveling fromArkansasto visit the family in Oracle. She brought a crèche with her to loan for the show.
As one exited the display, there was a table with a notebook for people to make comments about the nativity exhibit. Some of these comments were wow, wondrous, beyond words, beautiful and lovely beyond belief.
The display was organized and sponsored by the San Manuel Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Tri-Community to enjoy. In their 2012 Christmas Crèche Display program they said, “It is our greatest wish for you as we again come to the end of another year that you and your loved ones may find in this season, not only His peace, but a renewed faith and joy. And may that peace, faith and joy remain with you throughout the coming year.”
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