With all the holiday madness, many are unable to take a moment to breathe and remember the meaning behind the Christmas holiday.
Ocean View Presbyterian Church parishioner Elsie Young hopes to bring that meaning back to the community with the church’s annual Nativity Festival, which features more than 125 crèches.
“My sister was telling me about a church that she went to, and they had a nativity festival, and have had it for 20-some years. She said to me, ‘Els — you ought to start that in your church.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. Then I thought about it a little bit, and we talked about it a little bit, and finally we decided, ‘Well, we’ll just try it and see what happens,’” recalled Young, who started the festival five years ago.
“We always have a Christmas dinner, and I asked everyone to bring their crèche that night to share with the congregation. Then I asked the question, ‘Do you think we could do this for the community as a gift to the community?’ It would be a nice way to start Advent — it’s sacred, it’s part of the religious season. We’re shopping and baking, and wrapping presents and going to parties. This sets silent time away from the business. “
The Nativity Festival will be held on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each crèche will be displayed along with the story behind it.
“Last year, somebody donated to us a crèche that has 124 pieces on it. They didn’t want it back, and it took a big table to display it. That was the biggest one. The smallest one was in an eggshell. There was one that was 75 years old, and the gal said she could remember when she was a little girl and her daddy brought it home,” shared Young.
“One of mine is about 55 years old. That was the one where the man had the kids go out and collect the Christmas trees, and he paid kids a nickel for each tree they brought in and he carved them with a penknife. these barns, and sold them for $25. In those days, $25 was hard to come by. Each one of us in our family bought one at that time and still have them.
“I have one from Alaska. Someone went to Alaska and brought one back to me. They’re with Eskimos and the stable is an igloo. I have one from Mexico, and instead of three camels there’s a horse, a camel and an elephant. That was kind of a new concept to me.”
Young said the festival has grown over the years, especially by word of mouth.
“Some people haven’t heard about it, and then they’ll hear someone say something about it and ask, ‘Where’s that at?’ ‘At the Presbyterian church!’ and they’ll bring them along. I think that’s one of my hopes — that people tell the story and it grows.”
Twice during the festival, the Ocean View Presbyterian Church Choir will perform seasonal music and sing Christmas carols. Attendees will be invited to sit and enjoy the music along with free refreshments, or join along in singing.
“So they can have some punch and cookies and sit, and sing if they like. A lot of people sing,” she said. “It’s kind of different than any other experience you have during the season. There’s a lot of conversation. There’s a lot of awesomeness. You’ll hear a lot of people say that.”
For more information about the Nativity Festival, call (302) 539-8718. Ocean View Presbyterian Church is located at 67 Central Avenue in Ocean View.