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Crushing on creches: Church display will feature more than 400 nativity displays

More than 400 nativity scenes will be on display Dec. 15-16 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Swansea.
More than 400 nativity scenes will be on display Dec. 15-16 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Swansea. Submitted

For most families that celebrate Christmas, the season is filled with traditions. Some, like Aunt Flo’s fruitcake, are more like a dance of avoidance, while others — notes to Santa, serving meals to homeless families, setting up the family creche — are passed down through generations.

In 2011, the congregation of Calvary United Methodist Church in Swansea was looking for a special way to create fellowship during the holidays. Instead of hosting an event, they asked members who owned nativity scenes if they would loan them to the church for a few weeks so they could be put on display.

“The church felt like this would be a nice way for families to share their Christmas traditions with their church family,” explains organizer Frances Fogel. “We ended up with about 30 creches and lots of fellowship.”

Four years later the creche displays had become such a beloved tradition that the church decided to share it with public.

“We had to print the promotional brochure way ahead of time so we just guessed that we’d end up with about 100 creches to display,” Fogel said. “We were so nervous we wouldn’t get there, but word got out in the community and we ended up with more than 250.”

Today, it’s more popular than ever: this year’s event, which will be held Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16, will feature more than 400 creches.

Although some are traditional, many are quite modern and striking, such as a one-dimensional silhouette cut from sheet metal and an elegant soapstone carving from Kenya depicting Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a single sculpture. In all, creches from dozens of countries are on display, including Germany, Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, the Philippines, Costa Rica and others. Materials are just as varied and include glass, wood, cardboard, sticks, ceramic, straw, oyster shells, driftwood and coconut shells.

“This event is a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas,” Fogel said. “We are thrilled to be able to host it.”

If you go

Nativity exhibition

When: 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15; 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.

Where: Calvary United Methodist Church, 1130 Calvary Church Road, Swansea.

Details: This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 803-568-9712