Neapolitan Crèche


The Art Institute of Chicago acquired a Neapolitan Crèche a couple years ago. Every year I say I’ll go and time always runs out. It’s only displayed about 6 weeks a year because the figures’ silk outfits are so fragile. Made in the mid-18th century, this nativity scene exemplifies those of the day. Historically, nativity scenes started simply. They’d only feature Mary, Jesus and Joseph. Then St. Francis got permission to exhibit living scenes and he added all the animals.


In time in Naples people really got into lavish displays. They’d compete with their frenemies to make the best and biggest scenes.

All scenes from this era would have Mary, Jesus, Joseph, angels, shepherds, Three Kings* and all sorts of additional characters. They’d have three sections. On the right is the angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. There’s always one shepherd who’s asleep and will miss going to see the Christ child. Then there’s an elaborate nativity scene with the principle figures in the center. On the left there’s a tavern scene to show boisterous, i.e. profane life of the common folk.


She wears real coral

You can examine this piece again and again and continue to find new drama and characters.

*The Bible never specifies three kings, but somehow that’s become the legend.


Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I can’t believe New Years was last Tuesday. It seems like more time than that has passed.

I made a point of seeing another opulent church before the decorations would come down and went to Holy Trinity Polish Mission. Since I was downtown, I also stopped in the Art Institute of Chicago which has a Neapolitan Crèche. Though they acquired this exhibit with over 200 figures in 2013, I hadn’t seen it. I was blown away.

I’ve been working regularly and particularly enjoy helping in the Makerspace. So many patrons come in with creative ideas and leave with great gifts. They feed off each other. Friday was jam-packed as the regulars start their Christmas gifts now and finish by say March. Now I’ve got several ideas buzzing in my head.

I’m learning all about the history of candy by reading Sweet Tooth, a micro-history on sweets. I’ve learned that candy made from sugar was first developed by Saudi’s who used it as medicine. More on this book later.

So 2019 has started off well. It’s been warm here, well over freezing and I’m enjoying meeting new colleagues and learning new skills. It’s melancholy to put away Christmas decorations because I feel that now I have the time to savor them, whereas leading up to Christmas there’s so much frenzy that I don’t. I think I prefer the post Christmas days to early December.


Holy Trinity


I figured that January 6, Epiphany, would be the last day to see Christmas decorations in a church. I returned to Holy Trinity Polish Mission, another church built in the late 19th Century. I’d been blown away with its art and architecture.


Nativity Scene

Once a local parish, Holy Trinity is now a mission for Polish Catholics in Chicago. The mass I attended was 100% in Polish so I marveled at the sacred art as scripture was read and the homily given.

The mass I attended had about 300 people in attendance, which is unexpected in an era when so many churches are half empty. I think the Polish are still quite serious about religion.


I learned that Poland celebrated its independence in 1918.

I love to see how people keep their culture alive generation after generation. Holy Trinity has a grade school and high school.