It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
A passionate “crib” collector since childhood, Georgette Vale brought along her impressive collection of Nativity scenes for us to see at the Reepham WI meeting on Thursday 16 November, as well as a selection of amusing, home-crafted characters in Biblical settings.
St Francis of Assisi is thought to have introduced the first living Nativity scene in the Italian city of Greccio on Christmas Eve 1223. This was to encourage his flock to reflect upon the magical story of the birth of Jesus.
Georgette shared anecdotes of “Santons de Provence” – dainty clay figurines, no bigger than “Thumbelina” created in the south of France, not only of the usual Nativity groupings but also tradespeople and residents of rural villages – now highly collectible.
Another French festive tradition is the “fève” – a small trinket originally made from fava beans to represent religious symbols, then hidden in cakes, notably Gateau de Rois, traditionally served at Epiphany, similar to our custom of hiding old sixpenny pieces in Christmas puddings.
While writing about all things Christmas, a shout out to the Reepham WI Craft Club who have been busy working on decorations for our tree for the forthcoming Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary’s, as well as for the Bircham Centre art room, during the Festival of Light, to be held on Sunday 3 December. We hope many of you will come along and have a great afternoon.
Reepham WI meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at 7.30 pm in St Michael’s. The speaker at our next meeting on Thursday 14 December (on this occasion a week early) will be Penny Doe on a “Folk Christmas”, an assortment of Christmas songs and music.
Nativity scene figures brought along by Reepham WI members. Photo: Rosemary Black