By JUDY A. TOTTS
AKRON â€” In many families, bringing out the nativity set is one of the main highlights of the holiday. Whether an elaborately carved imported wooden crÃ¨che or a humble plaster set from the five-and-dime, the Holy Family holds a special place of honor, with angels keeping watch over Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
As part of its holiday exhibit, Stan Hywet presents â€œArt of the Nativity,â€ a display of more than 40 crÃ¨che scenes. The University of Dayton has provided most of the nativity sets. The universityâ€™s Marian Library boasts a collection of more than 1,500 crÃ¨ches from about 45 countries.
In a presention Nov. 7 at Stan Hywet, the Rev. Johann G. Roten, director of the Marian Library at the university, said the collection is aimed at promoting the study and understanding of how culture and religion connect.
â€œWe study culture through nativity sets from all over the world and back in time,â€ Roten said.
He also said nativity sets had visual and childlike appeal.
â€œPeople simply like nativity sets; they (the beauty of the pieces) attract people emotionally,â€ he said, adding that in regards to culture and religion, it was a mutually enriching situation. â€œCulture enriches religion, and religon enriches culture.â€
The nativity sets, displayed throughout the Manor House, vary in style and construction materials, including fabric, straw, hardened bread dough, clay, olive wood, rosewood and thorn wood.
For more information about the Marian library and research institute, visit www.themarypage.net.
The exhibit is available for viewing from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas, through Dec. 28. It also will be available for viewing during special holiday evening hours from 5 to 8 p.m. ,when the grounds and gardens are illuminated.
For ticket prices, resevations and information about Stan Hywetâ€™s evening tours and activities, call 330-315-3287 or visit www.stanhywet.org.
Totts may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4063.