A fine rain has replaced the few flakes of snow that had fallen during the day. To go home to La Vancelle the roundabout at the exit of Riquewihr – like a big lottery wheel – decided to send me to the wine road rather than the highway … At 18 o’clock, almost everyone has already gone home. I cross Zellenberg and Ribeauvillé. It is a route that I know on the fingertips.
Here I am in Bergheim. The old tower in the city walls is still there, guarding the gateway to the medieval village. Small Christmas lights are twinkling here and there. Three Magi with colorful and happy faces are installed under a blue tent. They are watching the cars go by and seem to wait for someone.
An elf on a panel announces the Nativity scenes. One of them, a great size, is proudly guarding the entrance to the village. Attracted by a multitude of small stars which are reflected on the shiny pavement, I am sneaking through the fortified gate into the old village of Bergheim.
At a time when people are getting ready to have dinner and also because of the rain, the streets are deserted. The magic of small Christmas lights reflecting on the pavement has only one witness. Me. Or maybe not: Four brave ghost-like tourists slide along the walls, perhaps in search of a hidden treasure?
At the beginning of the night, the old village of Bergheim has an incredible charm, exacerbated by the rain. I love the rain. When it is reasonable, it is beautiful and beneficial. It gives this indefinable touch of romance which brings images to life. At the end of the square, the magnificent Town Hall sparkles. And the hidden treasure these visitors are seeking tonight are the nativity scenes.
The Christmas crib, 15 centuries of tradition …
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was born in a stable. The place where it is deposited at birth is a manger (cripia in Latin), which is leading to the word “crib”. Subsequently, the word manger served to designate the whole barn where Jesus was born. The date of December 25 was set as the date of birth of the divine child in the fourth century. From the sixth century, the ancient writings report that the celebration of Christmas night was taking place ad Praesepe in the church of Santa Maria in Rome, which literally means around the crib. According to Christian tradition, the relics of the basilica are the main planks of the Bethlehem manger and the swaddling clothes of the infant Jesus. The Christmas crib as we know it today with the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the ox and the ass (donkey) is dating back to that time, after the years 500 AC, more than 15 centuries ago …
More than 50 cribs to be discovered along the Nativity scenes Trail in Bergheim
The Trail of the Nativity Scenes of Bergheim offer an original way to discover more than 50 craft cribs created by residents and village associations and staged in the city, illuminated and decorated in Christmas colors.
The first nativity scene, I discovered it by chance, my eye attracted by a big white star in the corner of a house. Just below, a small rectangle of light. I have to lean very low because the mystery hid in a basement, behind glass. Surprise! A barn, with lots of straw. Two characters: a kneeling woman and a man a little behind. A wooden ladder and a little higher and jovial round face within hey and straw: baby Jesus! This little illuminated crib in the dark is naive and moving.
I read that it was in Bergheim that the most numerous cribs were to be found (in Alsace). So tonight, I also go looking for them … They are all different. Each brings a lot of emotion. Here a mural on what should be the entry of a winemaker’s cellar. There a lot of amazing and tiny clay characters populate a small rural landscape and a barn located behind … glass. Firmly standing behind the child Jesus, the donkey looks at me straight in the eyes. It is my understanding that it is invested with a divine mission, he! I think he is looking good.
If you too want to go to a small pilgrimage on the Trail of Christmas cribs in Bergheim, here are some guidelines.
Nativity scenes are arranged around the streets of Bergheim. They are marked by a large white star. Plans indicating their location are available at the entrances of the village.
Dec 01 – 23, 2012 and for next year, Nov 30 – Dec 22, 2013
Visit on your own or guided visits on weekends. Meeting point is place Dr Walter at 18:00.
Cribs are displayed around the streets of Bergheim. They are marked by a large white star. Plans indicating their location are available at the entrances of the village..
A Tourist Information point awaits visitors in the Bergheim: 1 place du Dr Walter 68750 BERGHEIM
Tél : 03.89.73.31.98
Opening hours for december 2012
Monday : 9:00 – 12:00 – 14:00 – 18:00
Tuesday : Closed
Wednesday : 14:00 – 18:00
Thursday : de 10:00 – 12:00 – 14:00 – 18:00
Friday : 9:00 – 12:00
Saturday : 9:00 – 12:00 – 16:00 – 20:00
Sunday : 10:30 – 12:30 – Guided tour: 18:00 – 20:00
Website of the city of Bergheim
This page is an initiative of Les Remparts de Riquewihr – luxury and romantic holiday homes in the heart of Alsace, France – ideal base to visit all of Alsace as well as nearby Germany and Switzerland.