The winter holidays and their emphasis on tradition are a comfort for many people in an age where people's lives are increasingly busy and ever changing. Sometimes it's hard to find time to just breathe and relax, but the season asks us to slow down and appreciate our community.
One such tradition is the annual Lighting of the Bethlehem Tree at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515). In its sixth year, the tree's lighting will be held in conjunction with Music in the City on Dec. 3, with hors d'ouvres and a cash bar beginning at 5:15 p.m. and the program starting at 5:30 p.m.
Every year the event draws more than 200 people for the tree-lighting program in the Trustmark Grand Hall, to see the splendor of the tree as well as hear seasonal musical selections and carols by the St. Andrew's Cathedral Parish Choir.
The highlight of the tree is the Younger Foundation Creche Collection, which features more than 100 authentic eighteenth-century Neapolitan angel and Nativity figures. Included are figures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Three Magi, angels and townspeople—all done in metal wrapped in hemp. The heads and shoulders are painted terra cotta, the eyes are glass, and the hands and feet are made of wood.
Collection curator Gay Graeber Stubbs—the daughter of Jewell Younger Graeber, who spent more 20 years collecting the figures—said in a press release that "this display was specifically collected and displayed for the children of Mississippi."
The event is sponsored by Wise Carter Child & Caraway and is free to the public. The Bethlehem Tree will be on display through early January.