Willow Valley Residents Susan and Mounir’s Nativity scene is a labor of love. Mounir is originally from the Middle Eastern country of Lebanon, where his family owned a business producing olive oil.
In Lebanon, the crèche or Nativity scene not only signifies the Christmas season, but it carries with it the meaning of the importance of Christian faith, as well as heritage.
Susan and Mounir are busy each December setting up and adding new features to their crèche. Carved from olive wood, many of the animals and figures are from Jerusalem. This year Susan constructed a well, recreating it from her internet research of wells from the time of Jesus. She inventively used modeling clay formed over the end of a clear plastic bottle so it will actually hold water.
Additionally, twigs, vines, and hand-hewn ladders make the scene realistic. It even includes a chicken house and a miniature wool drying rack. The crèche is on display in a common area near Susan and Mounir’s apartment at Willow Valley where it is enjoyed and shared with neighbors and visitors.
“Though Middle Eastern Nativity scenes include figurines of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, shepherds, and kings just like Western ones, there are some important differences in the Lebanese crèche: in the tradition, the nativity crib is centered around a cave, not a manger, and the crèche is usually decorated with chickpea, broad bean, lentil, oat, and wheat seeds that grow and sprout from a damp cotton wool in the weeks leading up to Christmas. During the Holiday Season, the crèche is an important part of the home and serves as a place for family members to pray and ask for blessings.” Source: Our favorite Christmas Traditions from Lebanon