11/30/18: Manger Scenes

There’s an exhibit in town of 500 or so Nativity scenes from 120 countries. Some are family heirlooms; many were brought back by missionaries the world over. I walked in out of a windswept rain for a look, and gosh — what a sight. The hall glowed with warm color, papered over with countless Nativity Christmas cards. Then arranged by continent on several tiers of velvet-wrapped shelving, the creches were all flocked in together, all perfectly arranged, in a pageant of colors and textures. It’s one family’s labor of love for the past 27 years; generations of relatives store the pieces all year in their homes, then spend days of work with setup, arranging, and greeting the visitors with sugar cookies and tea.

Some scenes looked especially valuable, in cut glass and ceramic and metal. But most were handmade with materials and costumes and styles of their countries of origin. That sincere integrity, bringing the best one has to offer, gave the exhibit its emotional appeal.

Comic book art from what we as kids called “the funny papers.” The Gasoline Alley strip has been running since 1918.
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String, either fine crochet or perhaps the kind of hand-tatting done by my grandmother with a small tatting spindle in hand.nativity 5

Nuts, pods, dried flowers
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Amish Baby Jesus all swaddled in his black suit and little black hat. The practical Magi bring gifts of milk bottle, vegetables, and a chicken. Amish dolls are made without faces; that honors the First Commandment warning against graven images, and just might give little girls more scope for their imaginations.
nativity 4

Lesotho woolen work, and what looks to me like an Ethiopian icon with Amharic lettering:
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It was good to see and ponder such a fond custom, reworked and interpreted with a fresh eye and sincere handiwork from so many traditions.

About maryangelis

Hello Readers! (= Здравствуйте, Читатели!) The writer lives in the Catholic and Orthodox faiths and the English and Russian languages, working in an archive by day and writing at night. Her walk in the world is normally one human being and one small detail after another. Then she goes home and types about it all until the soup is done.
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