About 250 Nativity crèche scenes from 81 countries will be exhibited at St. Clements Episcopal Church this weekend to benefit the Alameda County Food Bank.
The exhibit, at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church (2837 Claremont Blvd.) starts with a reception Friday evening and runs thrugh Sunday.
The scenes, from the collection of Judy and Bob Davis, range from those with figures of less than an inch in height—one of the smallest is in a walnut shell—to one with 18-inch clay camels carrying riders.
Judy spoke of how the Davis’ remarkable collection started.
“I grew up in the Methodist Church; I never had a nativity scene. In 1966, I thought it was time to have one! I bought the first in Mexico and set it up. In 1980, we went to the Passion Play in Obergammerau aObergammerau and bought a hand-carved scene there. We collected wherever my husband went for business, with me accompanying him. The majority of our collection has been purchased in the countries of origin.”
The Christmas season displays—always as benefits for food banks—were first mounted in 1997 and have continued every third year.
This year will be the last; the Davises hope to place their collection, or a portion of it, somewhere as a gift. “One friend donated a collection to Loyola University in Chicago. The University of Dayton has some in their Marian Library,” Judy noted. “I’m a founding director of the Friends of the Creche, with over 400 memberships nationwide. We have a gathering yearly and a convention every other year.”
The origin of creche scenes is traditionally attributed to Francis of Assisi.
“What I like about them,” Judy said, “Is their real basis in folk art. Each person in each country portrays the lifestyle of the holy family and the three kings as wearing their own garb—serapes or ponchos on Joseph in Mexico or Peru—or bringing different gifts—turquoise, rugs and pots from the Southwest, kava sticks from Samoa.”