Wednesday, 14 December 2011 14:54

Nativity exhibits in Swift Current celebrates Christmas

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A display of more than 100 nativity arrangements from around the world at an exhibit in Swift Current provided a glimpse into the way artists express their views about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The 2011 Christmas Crèche Exhibit was hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Swift Current Dec. 9-10 as a Christmas gift to the community.

A crèche, also called a manger or crib, is an artistic representation of the birth of Christ.

The creation of a nativity scene is one of the earliest Christmas traditions. St. Francis of Assisi helped to popularize this practice in 1223 when he set up a nativity scene at the Italian village of Greccio.

Rosemary Unger, who was a hostess at the exhibit, said it was arranged by a committee of church women.

“I think they’ve done an absolute beautiful job,” she observed.

“There’s so much to see here.”

One of the sets on display was a hand-painted resin nativity that is more than 50 years old.

Another one — a memento from a Hawaiian holiday — is a nativity scene displayed inside a coconut. Just as unique is a 19-piece First Nations ceramic nativity that was hand-painted by a woman in Gull Lake.

Other sets originated from locations such as Germany, Jerusalem, Argentina, Bolivia and Texas. They were created from different materials, including wood, plastic, ceramic, cloth and even glass crystal.

Four of the sets on display, all made from wood, were created by Rosemary and her husband Noel.

“Our hearts are in carpentry,” she said.

Three years ago, a similar exhibit took place at the church, but for the past two years the congregation presented a live nativity.

On each day, the exhibition was open for viewing between 2 and 8 p.m.

Rosemary said the opening of the exhibition was eagerly anticipated on the first day.

“There were people waiting for us at 2 o’clock. That was nice.”

Loretta Rolfe-Unger, who has her own collection of nativity scenes, attended on Friday evening.

“This feels like it’s holy,” she said. “I like how each artist has his own interpretation.”

She has been a collector for about 10 years.

“I only have maybe 12 or 14,” she mentioned.

Her first one was a gift from her mother-in-law when she got married. She also received others in her collection as gifts while she bought some at gift shops.

According to Rolfe-Unger, there are so many representations of Christmas in shops, but finding a nativity scene can sometimes be difficult.

Many of the sets on display at the exhibition reflect the personal stories of their owners. One was a gift from a daughter and another was presented to a young boy when his father returned from a trip to Japan. In the case of a Precious Moments 10-piece nativity set, a new piece was added each year by a loving grandmother.

“It really helps one to remember what Christmas really is,” Rosemary said.

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