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Collecting Nativity and Creches


Celebrating and decorating for Christmas for many people would not be complete without setting out their nativity set. The most beautiful ones are usually expensive and the best way to collect an heirloom nativity is a starting out with the main figures and adding to the set every year.

Since a nativity set is something you will keep for a lifetime, choose carefully. Find the set that speaks to you and your family, there will be one that will be a perfect fit.

Collecting Nativity and Creche Sets

Nothing is more fitting to collect for the Christmas season than the real reason the holiday is celebrated. There are as many different types Nativity sets as there are collectors. Pick a region of the world and there will a Nativity representing that area and culture of the people. A nativity set can be fun and whimsical, very formal and religious, perfect for children to hold and play and everything in between. Over the years creches and nativities have been made of every type of material imaginable and it's not only the ones made from fine materials that are the most collectible or expensive.

Creche Collector Mark Gilligan

Mark Gilligan
It's a story heard before, something sparks a love in childhood, a love that continues on past the growing-up years. In Mark Gilligan's case it started when he was a child. His father was very religious and took the job of setting up the nativity under the Christmas tree seriously.

"We were taught it was very special and not a toy. But that wouldn't stop me from secretly laying under the tree and slightly rearranging the figures."

Vintage Creche Pictures and Information

A selection of creche images of Catholic Statuary, Fontanini, Bavarian plaster, and Italian sets sold at the five and dime stores.

Vintage Creches


Barb Crews
The company that is number one in many minds is Fontanini. Fontanini makes nativity pieces in sizes from 2.5" to 50" tall" -- a size for every home. If you are new to collecting, the basic 5", seven piece set is a perfect way to start. Then once you are "hooked" there are numerous additional characters and pieces to add to your vignette.

Of course each figure is hand painted, but there is a separate technique done just for the eyes. A separate group of artisans do all the eyes on the figures to get just the right look, something all collectors can relate to as the eyes can make or break a figure or ornament.

The Krakow Nativity

Barb Crews
The first Thursday in December, the market square in Krakow is turned into an art competition keeping alive a tradition that dates back hundreds of years. It's the competition for the most beautiful Krakow Nativity Crib and is sponsored by the Historical Museum of Krakow.

According to Polish Culture: "Creche-makers often incorporate characters from Krakow legends in their creations, including the likes of Queen Wanda, the Dragon of Wawel, and the famed Lajkonik. Each creche is a miniature version of Krakow, rendered in fairy-tale colors, joyous, often imbued with humor."

Read more about Krakow Nativities

The Putz

Learn more about the Putz, more about what it is and how it's used in holiday celebrations. The story of the Nativity as told by the Putz article is shared by the National Christmas Center, a great place to visit with numerous nativities and even a Putz or two.

Also find out more information about the Christmas Garden and how it also celebrates with a Nativity.

Friends of the Creche

The organization, Friends of the Creche is dedicated to furthering the tradition of the creche. Friends of the Creche is a nonsectarian, nonpolitical, and nonprofit organization for those who collect, exhibit, study, create, or simply treasure Christmas Nativity scenes.

The group was founded in 2000 and currently hosts an annual convention and produces a quarterly newsletter.

Find out more about Friends of the Creche

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