Our New Year began in St Gengoux de Scisse with our Dutch friend and his sister and family. We stayed over and drank champagne at midnight! It was an interesting start to 2013 because we saw the Dutch fireworks on TV at midnight - not the familiar Big Ben!
During Advent we had watched the evolution of the creche (crib) in Taize. Apart from this one and our dear friends' crib outside their home in Varanges, there is no indication that it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus... This has shocked me, since France is perceived as being a Roman Catholic country, but in truth since the separation of church and state there is little evidence of knowledge of the festivals although bizarrely there is a national holiday for Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Assumption, and All Saints Day as well as Christmas of course.
However, I just wanted to show you the full creche built in Taize as although in the church's calendar Christmastide continues until the feast of Candlemass on 2nd February, I don't expect that the creche will still be there then!
From the left came the shepherds with their sheep.
I should explain that the inspiration for the creche has come from the visit that some of the brothers and volunteers made in November to Kigali Rwanda. The volunteers returned and using African figures and African costumes as well as African huts, they put the creche together! Apparently many young men wear their jeans like those in the west hence the dress of the shepherd!
Mary and Joseph are in the stable with Jesus who has been put in a kind of basket with straw. The star shines above, wired in by the local electrician for the occasion.
I was particularly intrigued by the the angels - all dressed in African costume and each one holding a little item placed there by the volunteer who made it - a little token of something they treasured - in one case a camomile tea bag! I suppose the link must be that the angels delivered good news, so what is good news for you - and clearly the tea bag was good news!!!
Finally the kings arrive - they came from the East and set out a few weeks back for the long journey, looking splendid in their colourful costumes!
Certainly a unique creche, and one that in our first Christmas season living here, we will remember for a long time! It reflects too the amazing mix of people who come to Taize, truly drawn from the four corners of the earth!