crèche (krĕsh, krāsh) [key], representation of the Infant Jesus in the manger, usually surrounded by figures of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, animals, and the Wise Men; also called Christmas Crib. The crèche has been displayed in churches during the period from Christmas Eve to Jan. 6 since the Middle Ages, especially after St. Francis of Assisi instituted the custom in 1223 at Gréccio, Italy. It is a Christmas tradition in many homes. The term crèche is also applied to a day nursery.
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