ELKO — Christmas wreaths will be the special feature of the 12th Annual Interfaith Christmas Crèche Exhibit, which opens Thursday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints West Stake Center, 3001 N. Fifth St.
Wreaths have long been a traditional Christmas decoration, but some may not realize that a wreath has also become a Christian symbol for Christ’s suffering and triumph over death, as well as symbolizing eternity.
“It is believed that the holly wreath, with its sharp, pointed leaves, first represented the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross, the little red berries symbolizing drops of blood. Later wreaths were formed from a variety of pines and firs, with evergreens embodying eternal life,” states a 1988 New York Times article.
Not only does the wreath symbolize Christ’s atonement, there is another tradition more specific to Christmas that accompanies the wreath. At one time, Christmas wreaths were decorated with four candles — three on the outside and one in the middle. On Christmas Eve, the middle candle was lit to represent the birth and arrival of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
Along with the wreaths to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Crèche Exhibit will have live musical performances from many different groups and individuals, and a live Nativity re-enactment, to accompany the main display of hundreds of Nativities shared by the community.
Musical performances begin at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. Saturday; and at 4 p.m. Sunday.
The 23rd Annual Messiah Sing-Along begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The short, live Nativity re-enactment will be repeated several times Thursday through Saturday during the same hours as the musical performances.
As a special gift to those attending the exhibit this year, there is an opportunity to receive a piece of the now-retired Madonna and Child collection which gave the Crèche Exhibit its start 12 years ago.
Gifts will also be collected for the homeless. The Crèche Exhibit is partnering with Joshua Tree Shelter to collect items that will help the homeless make it through the cold winter. Some suggested items are warm clothing, hats, gloves, boots for men and women, warm socks, hand warmer pouches and food gift cards. Donated gifts can be brought in anytime during the exhibit.
The Exhibit is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free.