Saturday, December 19, 2009

Collecting Creches

I've been noticing stories about people collecting creches--often those stories are in conjunction with some kind of display, like the only one I've ever seen, at Mepkin Abbey (go here for a wonderful slide show of that event).

This morning, when I Googled the topic, I discovered that it's a much larger topic than I thought, with annual conventions devoted to the practice.

In 2004, I happened to be at Mepkin Abbey the week-end that they set up their creche display. Everyone at the Abbey was invited to view the display after Vespers on Saturday night, the week-end before it would open to the public. I was excited for many reasons, but primarily, I had never expected to see the display, since it usually took place during a time of the year when I couldn't possibly make it back to the Abbey. Plus, we got to see it for free, and the public would be paying $25 a ticket, if I'm remembering correctly.

I hadn't really thought of all the creative possibilities that a creche scene offers. At Mepkin Abbey, we saw creches from every corner of the world, with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in every color and nationality. We saw creches made from such a variety of materials: clay, clothespins, wood, paper, scraps of cloth.

I never thought about starting a collection of my own until this year, when I have kept stumbling across stories of individuals who have done just that. In olden days, one would have to travel to other countries to get their creches; these days, there are countless organizations which will ship these creches to me, but somehow, that feels like cheating.

I will probably not start my own collection; I don't know where I'd store it, for one thing. I much prefer to enjoy the collections of others. But suddenly, I'm struck by the desire to make my own creche. Wouldn't that be an interesting Advent and/or Epiphany practice?

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