Seasonal Attraction

A photo essay. To view all 23 images, check out the email version

During a proper Christmas season, opposites must attract and then converge: gravity and levity, tradition and invention, duty and whimsy, yearning and contentment. Fortunately, we have Christmas in Europe, this year’s show of nativity scenes at the Knights of Columbus Museum, to kickstart that process.

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The exhibition, which draws from all over the continent, offers a dizzying array of materials, styles and sensations. On a corner of Europe’s fabulous Neapolitan display, for example, a pair of terracotta revelers have broken into dance, with a tambourine for rhythm and a yellow sash for show; while just feet away, Mary and Joseph, painted in sober oil tones, quietly bask in the love of their newborn child. In another room, a modernist work from the UK interprets the baby Jesus as a featureless wooden block, with taller colorful blocks for the parents and the three wise men; while just feet away, a craggy earth-toned couple with furrowed brows and lengthy noses gazes into a manger stuffed with Icelandic wool (or is it some of Mary’s unruly hair?).

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If you find yourself feeling cheerful, fascinated, amused, reflective, inspired and so on during a visit to the show, well, it’s the Christmas season, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Christmas in Europe
Knights of Columbus Museum – 1 State St, New Haven (map)
Daily 10am-5pm thru Feb. 2, 2020 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
(203) 865-0400

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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