Christmas started in Macclesfield last weekend. The lights now shine on the tree in the Market Place. And the Christmas Crib is there as it has been since 1959.
It was donated to the town by the Macclesfield Catenians on an initiative of John Noden, then Headteacher of St Albans' Primary School and year’s president of the Catenians.
This is an idealised view from 2007 on an East Cheshire Hospice Christmas card in support of an appeal in that year.
Over the years the Crib has been maintained by the Catenians, even replaced once before now.
There was a major event in 2006. The figures were in need of replacement and attention was focused by UK National Church leaders on the plight of Bethlehem Christians. They were suffering “terrible economic hardship and daily anxiety about their homes and their security.”
The Catenians linked with Macclesfield Churches to support traders in Bethlehem. Jenny and Tim Kendal, of St. James’ Church, Sutton, on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, arranged the purchase of beautiful figures directly in Bethlehem.
The Tradition assured
Over the years the Crib has inevitably been showing signs of age. It has needed running repairs when brought out of Council storage to appear each year in the town centre.
Something robust was needed. The Churches of Macclesfield (under their banner HOPE) added to the funds provided by the Catenians.
And a new structure is unveiled this year. This will ensure continuity for a Macclesfield tradition which is itself an important witness to the true meaning of Christmas.
Visitors will also appreciate the fact that new design enables a better, more compact setting for the figures which are now much easier to see.