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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 08, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 04Dec00

By Kent Larsen

Creches, Lights, Choirs Are Public Face of Mormon Christmas

ORANGE, CALIFORNIA -- Looking at the events at LDS facilities around the U.S., it seems the Church's public face at Christmas time is made up of Christmas lights decorating temples and visitors centers, choirs performing Christmas music and exhibits of nativity creches at many local chapels around the country. The newest of these traditions is the exhibit of nativity creches, which in the past 18 years has grown from a pioneering exhibit in Ann Arbor, Michigan to as many as 50 annual exhibits at LDS chapels in North America.

The original, Ann Arbor, exhibit has grown to include over 900 Christmas creches representing 97 countries around the world. But that exhibit is no longer the largest. An exhibit in Phoenix reportedly has more than 1,000 creches, and it is not unusual for exhibits to have several hundred creches. Other large exhibits include one in Orange county, California, which has 700 creches, the Palo Alto, California exhibit, now in its 13th year, with more than 500 creches, and the Midway, Utah interfaith exhibit, which also has more than 500 creches. Attendance at these exhibits often numbers in the thousands. See below for a list of LDS creche exhibits compiled by Mormon News.

A report in the Orange county Register traces the tradition of Christmas creches to St. Francis of Assisi, who created the first live nativity following a visit to the holy land. Creches, or nativities as they are also called, became popular in the 17th century in Europe, and the tradition has spread worldwide along with Christianity. Some of the creche exhibits include a live nativity, and others, such as the display at the New York New York Stake Center each year, only consist of a live nativity.

Meanwhile, the more traditional lighting of LDS temples and visitors centers to commemorate the season continues, with lights displayed at temples both in and out of the U.S. The Manila Philippines Temple is decorated and has a lighting ceremony each year, as do the Los Angeles California, Mesa Arizona, St George Utah, Oakland California and Washington DC Temples. The Salt Lake City Temple Square lighting ceremony was cancelled this year because of concerns over the size of crowds, but the square remains lit with lights that, with the addition of the LDS Church's new Conference Center and its administrative block, must now exceed 1 million.

The Washington Temple lighting ceremony is actually a diplomatic event, with attendance restricted to those invited by the Church, and the switch turning on the lights normally pulled by an ambassador to the US. This year the 300,000 lights were switched on by the ambassador from Jordan, Marwan J. Muasher, one of the diplomats representing 41 countries attending the ceremony. The Washington lights are seen by some 250,000 people each year. The Temple's visitor center also holds a series of concerts by local musical groups through the Christmas season and has its own, relatively small, exhibit of Christmas creches representing 15 US states and foreign countries.

LDS choirs also celebrate the season at this time of year, many performing multiple times. All the permanent regional LDS choirs are performing, including the Southern California Mormon Choir, the Arizona Mormon Choir, the Colorado Mormon Chorale, the Mormon Choir of Washington DC, and the Richmond Chorale.

List of Creche Exhibit locations:
Tempe, Arizona

Aliso Viejo, California
La Crescenta, California
Orange County, California
Palo Alto, California
Thousand Oaks, California

Boulder, Colorado

Washington, DC

Grantville, Georgia

Columbus, Indiana

Adrian, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Howell, Michigan
Livonia, Michigan
Midland, Michigan


Las Vegas, Nevada

Hampton, New Hampshire

Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Columbus, Ohio
Liberty Township, Ohio

Corvallis, Oregon
Forest Grove, Oregon
Medford, Oregon

State College, Pennsylvania

Bedford, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

Midway, Utah
Providence, Utah
Provo, Utah (BYU Art Museum)
Provo, Utah

Franklin, Virginia
Oakton, Virginia

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

Burns Lake, B.C., Canada
Chilliwack, B.C., Canada
Horsefly, B.C., Canada
Kamloops, B.C., Canada
Kelowna, B.C., Canada
Penticton, B.C., Canada
Powell River, B.C., Canada
Prince George, B.C., Canada
Salmon Arm, B.C., Canada
Vernon, B.C., Canada
White Rock, B.C., Canada


Cradle of Nativity scenes
Orange co CA Register 3Dec00 D1
By Andre Mouchard: Orange County Register
HOLIDAY: The annual exhibit at the Mormon church in Orange has about 700 displays this year.

Washington Post 30Nov00 D1

Handel's 'Messiah'
Washington Post 30Nov00 EA1

Nativity sets on display
Philadelphia Inquirer 2Dec00 D1

Wonderland was work
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 2Dec00 D1
By Kelly Ettenborough: The Arizona Republic
Mormon light display took months

Holiday Concerts
Washington Post 30Nov00 EA1

Holiday Day by Day
Washington Post 30Nov00 E1

San Francisco Chronicle 1Dec00 D1

Jordanian ambassador helps light LDS temple lights in D.C.
Deseret News 30Nov00 N1
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent

Mormon Temple effort creates wonderland feel for spectators
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 24Nov00 D1

Gingerbread-house makers prepare for holiday program
Kansas City KS Star 28Nov00 D1

Mesa Temple Garden Christmas Festival

13th Annual Palo Alto Christmas Creche Exhibit

Nativity sets on display
Philadelphia Inquirer 2Dec00 D1

Articles of faith help ring in the holy season
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 1Dec00 D1
By Kelly Ettenborough: The Arizona Republic

Holiday symbols: Midway exhibit will have 500 creches from 60 countries
Deseret News 25Nov00 D1
By Carma Wadley: Deseret News senior writer

Crechefest 2000

18th Annual Christmas Creche (Nativity) Exhibit

Creative minds craft clever Nativity scenes from odd items for Colleyville church exhibit


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