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Angelic Host Crèche
Revolving angels add a hypnotic effect to this splendid nativity

This crèche pops up to create a winter wonderland that encloses the Nativity.

When folded, this large nativity measures about 19 inches square.Its base is decorated in gold with three angels and the words, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."
It's hard to believe that all these angels, shepherds, Magi—and a Christmas tree on which the angel wheel revolves!—all fold into a flat, compact nativity (shown at left).

The heavy construction paper of this nativity has enough weight to open the base completely flat, something that is not always the case with some pop-up nativities.

Open this crèche, and you are amazed by the pop-up effect. As if by magic, in front of your eyes appears a 3-dimensional tableau of the Nativity.

This crèche is a marvel of 3-D paperengineering: a hexagonal manger pops-up, its side panels resembling awinter wonderland of pines and snow.

The three back side panels are perforated in an arch shape andcovered with red cellophane. You can imagine the glow cast by a candleset just behind them. The center panel also has a small rectangularopening at the top where the warm air would enter the manger and propelthe revolving angels.

The art is phenomenal: this nativity is one of the best examples of the revolving angels genre.At the front, three Magi stand in adoration on a platform ofstonework. Just inside the manger, on another, similar, but raisedplatform of stones Mary and Joseph frame the Babe with outstreched arms abright gold halo. A young shepherd and a sheep kneel to the left.

Two more shepherds, a young boy holding two rams by the horns, and his bearded counterpart to the right complete the picture.

Revolving angels

Just behind Joseph, center stage, there's a Christmas tree! From its top, six angels revolve as if suspended in mid-air.

It's mesmerizing watching these little angels ascribe circles inside the manger. Light a candle—or, safer yet—place a nightlight—behind the creche, and hey begin to revolve. Imperceptebly at first, then you're in for an ethereal show.

The photo (below left) shows where the candle would be set: behindthe perforated arch on the back of the creche. A hood channels the warm air through the narrowopening at the top of the back, turning the tin wheel.

The wheel, resting on a pin attached to the top of theChristmas tree, has its six blades twisted slightly, like those of afan. This causes the warm air to turn the wheel, creating an angelic mid-airprocession.

A hood lined with a fire-retardant material channels the warm air from a candle—set in the holder provided. But always be careful about open flames! I only use a small votive candle, in a glass container.Six suspended angels, measuring about 4" high by 2.5" widefrom hand to hand (the image at left is almost life-size), in flowingrobes and outstreched arms add a wonderful touch to this marvelouscreche. No wonder similar nativities have commanded hundreds of dollars on the Internet.

Mine? A friend found it for me in a local antique store—for a fraction of that cost.

Beautiful embossing

Embossingadds a sculptural element to the flat surface. The head of the Newborn Child, for example, israised above the surrouning plane of the halo, creating a more profound 3-dimensional effect.

This form of embellishment distinguishes a fine creche, and addsimmeasurably to its quality: a prancing ram almost jumps from the page; and you could almost believe that the candles on the Christmas tree are on adifferent plane altogether.

In folding this crèche to store it fornext year, the revolving wheel and its accompanying angelic
host,of course,have to be removed first.

But did I just say, "store for next year?"

Silly me—don't weall leave our crèches out all year long?

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