For many years, one of the favorite Ann Arbor Christmas traditions was a large crèche (nativity scene) display, with examples from all corners of the world. That particular display is no longer available, but Christmas nativities remain a wonderful example of creative expression across cultures. There are not many opportunities to watch artists from all over the world frame the same story in their own culture. In the traditional story, wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, but I’ve seen Native American kings bringing corn, Central American kings bringing coffee beans, and African kings bringing grain. Animals in Chinese stables may include water buffalo, while island stables feature lizards. Regardless of whether or not you celebrate Christmas, the creative wealth of the crèche tradition is worthy of celebration.
Here, courtesy of the Glencairn Museum, is a glimpse into the variety.
If you’d like a chance to study some examples more closely, the Crèches from Around the World website from Dayton’s Marian Library gives you a chance to click on a country and see examples from that culture. Explore, and enjoy the diversity of human creativity.