FLORENCE — Hundreds of manger scenes will be on display for the 12th annual Nativity Festival in Florence Dec. 1-3. Attendees will have a chance to explore the crèche tradition in the folk art of many cultures.
Francis of Assisi, an Italian saint, invented the crèche tradition in the 13th century. According to legend, the Nativity custom dates back to a December night in 1224 when he was traveling to the Italian village of Greccio. The sight of shepherds sleeping in the moonlit fields evoked images of the first Christmas. Inspired by the midnight scene, St. Frances beckoned villagers to light the sky with candles, bring their animals and re-enact the Nativity.
This year's Nativity Festival will be held daily 1-6 p.m. Dec. 1-3 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' local building, located on the corner of North Fork at 2705 Munsel Lake Road. Admission is free to all faiths and beliefs, and children are welcome. Each day there will be special musical performances.
The festival has grown from a one-day event displaying 119 nativity scenes to a three-day festival with almost 400 crèches, tapestries and other art forms depicting the birth of Christ.
Most of the Nativity sets are on loan from local members of the community. These are cherished pieces to them that have become part of their family traditions. Many have been collecting for years and are eager to share their love of the Savior with you through their Nativity scenes. Children are invited to color their own book of the first Christmas story. Coloring sheets will be available so that small children also can participate.