I'm compiling some links for this post. First off, over here is a beautiful page of Creches from All over the world. Deacon Greg over at The Deacon's Bench posted a news story about a Czech nativity set being reassembled in Dayton Ohio. I'm sort of a Czechphile-- it's kind of a long story-- which I don't need to go into now. Needless to say, I surfed around the site (link posted in the original article and here) and got lost in looking at the different Nativity sets. I find them all so incredibly fascinating.
Also at the site, there's an article about the tradition of Native American nativities in New Mexico. I've yearned to have one. When I used to go to Indian Market, I'd look longingly at the sets, but couldn't then and still can't afford one. There are pictures there and as well as in the main page of International Creches.
I have two nativity sets of my own. One I got last year for Christmas. It's a Spanish Colonial set, though it's a mass-produced piece by a re-known NM artist, rather than an original. I can't even fathom what it would cost to own an original Charlie Carillo. Mine is the set on the right. My other set, which I haven't put up in years, is a Costco special. I had to color the Virgin Mary's hair from blond to brown with a sharpie marker. It's generic, but the figures are pretty enough. I used dress it up with lights, cedar branches when I put it up. I'm thinking of digging it out, unless I get my mom's old one, which looks a bit like the Fontanini sets.
Hee... a google image search lead me to a Little People nativity set. And not to be outdone, but Catholic Supply of St. Louis has a variety of Nativities, from the classic, tasteful ones, to the downright awful ones. I'm easily amused you know.
Tradition has it that St. Francis put up the first creche.
I think the nativity is a probably the most visible reminder of what the season should be about. Granted, we know that's not how it actually was, but it's still a wonderful image, isn't it? The madness that has become of the Christmas season is a disgusting display of greed, selfishness and a complete and utter lack of respect toward one's fellow man, woman or child.