Monday, January 1, 2007

Creches of East Los Angeles

Just when you're feeling that the American commercial machine has drained you of any Christmas spirit, I thought I would share these photographs of creches built by people who live in East Los Angeles. I took a bicycle tour of these creches last January and it was a moving, delightful experience.

Living Room Creche

It's hard to describe the dimensions of this creche, which was the piece de resistance of our tour and occupied about half of the family's living room. Apparently they start constructing it right after Thanksgiving and it takes weeks, with thousands of lights, animals and decorations. It's truly awe-inspiring. The family also created a tribute to Pope John Paul on a nearby table.

Creche with Mr. and Mrs. Claus

What will Santa bring Baby Jesus for Christmas? He already has everything. Maybe some skates to go skating on the pond once he's a little older.

Creche with weathervane

The goose or swan may be flying to alert people about Jesus' coming.

Creche with swans, ram, moose

All animals come to creches, and when the swans come, they flap their wings.

The devil in his lair

Many of the creches also depicted a sinister devil in a cave or hidey hole somewhere in the great panorama. At times, he was shown trying to convince a monk not to pray.

Creche with Jesus triplets

Many creches contained multiples of the Baby Jesus, perhaps a reference to the Trinity. Interestingly, one of the babies in this creche was black.

Creche in crate with tinsel

The tinsel looks like snow falling if you squint a little.

Tribute with roses

I thought this had a pretty symmetry and feminine grace.

Creche with cactus and reindeer

This creche was shyly hidden on the porch, but reindeer visiting the cactus in the yard let you know that something special is going on.

Creches with chain-link fence

The creche was right up close to the fence where anyone passing by could appreciate it.