Catholic Culture Association announces Macau’s first Nativity scenes contest

Marco Carvalho

A mandatory presence in the Christmas celebrations of millions of Catholic families worldwide, the crèche is the most recognizable symbol of the Nativity and a central element in the Christmas activities that the Macau Catholic Culture Association is currently pursuing.

Headquartered at Rua Formosa, the association has announced, for the first time, a nativity scene contest. The competition targets, on the one hand, the local parishes and, on the other, Macau’s Catholic schools and educational institutions.

The Catholic Culture Association took over from the Catholic Diocese of Macau the responsibility of encouraging the family tradition of preparing the Nativity scene. The competition’s main purpose is to familiarize local residents, whether they are Catholic or not, with the only Christmas symbol that is entirely based on the Gospels. By organizing the contest, the Macau Catholic Culture Association also wants to encourage the revival of a tradition that has been lost to many families, that of building the Nativity scene in the early days of Advent.

“The Macau Catholic Culture Association will be organising the ‘Admirabile Signum’ Nativity Competition this Christmas. There will be two entry categories, aimed at Catholic schools and at local parishes,” the association’s managing director Joni Cheng told O Clarim.

“Just as Pope Francis said in the Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, ‘the enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder’, we hope this competition can encourage the beautiful tradition of preparing the Nativity scene in the days before Christmas, be it in the parishes, in the schools or in the family,” she added.

The selection of the most beautiful Nativity sets – one for each one of the categories – will be determined by a jury that includes representatives from several sectors, from the business world to environmental protection.

Among the judges are top executives such as Tomaz Mok, and Benvinda Santos.

“The Macau Catholic Culture Association is also honoured to invite a number of Macau Catholics who are unique in the field of artistic creation and environmental protection as members of the professional jury that has been sworn in for this event, including Mr. Tomaz Mok, a legendary figure in the international advertising industry, CEO of MATCH Creative Hot Shop and former chairman of McCann Worldgroup (China) and also Ms Benvinda Santos, founding president of Associação Avante Vida Verde and a local multimedia designer,” Joni Cheng says.

But the crèche competition is only one among many Christmas-inspired activities that the association is pursuing. The Nativity scene is a central piece of a second initiative focused on Christmas that the Catholic Culture Association is nurturing for the first time ever. Earlier this month, the organization started selling an Advent Calendar that allows, over a 12-day period, the assemblage of a complete Nativity set. In addition to the figurines that are traditionally a part of the manger, the “Admirabile Signum” Advent Calendar also includes 12 cards – one for each day – featuring some of the most important teachings of the “Admirabile Signum” Apostolic Letter. The Advent Calendar costs 880 patacas and is available at the premises of the Macau Catholic Culture Association on Rua Formosa.

(Image: The Advent Calendar available on sale at the Macau Catholic Culture Association )