Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum’s notes on this are really fascinating.
“The annual Christmas installation is the result of the generosity, enthusiasm, and dedication of the late Loretta Hines Howard, who began collecting crèche figures in 1925 and soon after conceived the idea of combining the Roman Catholic custom of elaborate Nativity scenes with the tradition of decorated Christmas trees that had developed among the largely Protestant people of northern Europe.”
When I was growing up, we had both a tree and a crèche. Throughout the holidays, however, the Baby Jesus figure would periodically disappear from its cradle, and be mysteriously replaced by another Christmas decoration: A cheerful grinning grey plastic mouse wearing a Santa Clause suit and hat. No one ever figured out how that happened….