Many (many) years ago, I wrote a blog post about my nativity set . . . and how I loved to put it up for the holidays.
A few years ago, I decided to . . . just leave it in its box and not set it up. (Sometimes you just want to shake things up, y'know?) And it has stayed in its box ever since.
Until this year.
Why did I bring it back, you ask?
Well. I was inspired!
When I was in at the Chicago Art Institute earlier this week, we stopped in to see the Neapolitan Crèche currently on display there. (You can see it for a limited time there each holiday season.) It is just incredible!
Historically, Naples, Italy is famous for creating unique and intricate crèche scenes -- depicting not only the traditional nativity scenes representing the moment when Mary and Joseph receive the Three Wise Men, the shepherds, and the angels but also the more secular world surrounding the nativity (and suggesting the general depravity of the world, apparently).
This particular Neapolitan Crèche was crafted in the mid-18th century, and features over 200 figures. Each one is amazingly detailed with intricately detailed features and/or clothing.
There is a tavern scene off to one side (totally reminded me of the "Master of the House" scene in Les Mis . . .) which is just wonderful.
We were transfixed by the crèche, and ended up spending over a half hour just trying to take it all in. Everywhere you looked, there was something new to discover! The detail is just remarkable.
There are people doing all kinds of everyday things (there is a mother breastfeeding her infant right up front -- and a drunk sleeping it off in a dark corner, for example). There are animals of all types and heavenly beings and all manner of food items and . . . well . . . it's just amazing.
As for scale . . . the figures are a bit bigger than Barbie-doll size, I'd say. Probably in the 15-18 inch range? The entire display is housed in a Baroque style cabinet. Here's a photo - including onlookers - for scale.
If you happen to be in Chicago this holiday season, do take the time to seek it out! It's really worth the time and effort. (And I know there's an even bigger Neapolitan Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, so there's another option for you.)
Now you can see why I was inspired to come home and set up my own (much smaller!) crèche.
And . . . in case you're wondering if Erin still sets up her own nativity scene each year (you'll have to click in to my post from 2011 - link above - for details) . . . she is!
Here is Erin's version for this holiday season -- a most inclusive, nerd-friendly crèche.
Have a great weekend everyone!