December 18, 2001 - Nativity Scene

"O, little town of Bethlehem!" well, it's not so little at one Baton Rouge house. This is the story of the Nativity Scene that just kept growing. "It's a tradition," says Hugo Andricain. "My wife and I are both from Cuba, and in Cuba the emphasis at Christmas is on the birth of Christ. We celebrate it with Nativities. So it was very common in Cuba to see elaborate and large Nativities in store windows and in the houses."

Hugo and Zoila Andricain started out in 1989 with a simple Nativity Scene taking up just one small corner of the room. What it has grown into is now huge, virtually the whole town of Bethlehem - houses, shops, animals, people. From November to January it just flat runs them out of their dining room! It has taken over.

"I'm a born collector," says Hugo. "I just collect about everything, and I'm always telling my wife don't spend money unwisely. However, if it is a collectible, I don't mind. And she knew that, and that's what she took advantage of. Of course, it's her collection. I'm just the helper."

The collection takes up the whole dining room table and then some! The mountains in the back, that's the china cabinet. They love to show it off, even joke about it. But in the end, this devout family is well aware that it's all about the baby in the manger. While Hugo and Zoila made much of their Nativity by hand, the heart of the collection are the imported Fontanini collectibles from Italy. In fact, a member of the Fontanini family has come to see the huge scene. He left very impressed!