The other half of my favorite decoration we no longer use

It’s. Not. This.

But it’s very closely related…

Manger. Crib. Creche.

I hear the first word and think back to French 101, and the French word “manger.” Spelled the same as our English word, though pronounced differently, it means “to eat.”

And sure enough, my Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins (which contains fascinating stuff), says, “Etymologically manger means ‘eater’ or ‘feeding place,” adding that it comes from an old French word with that meaning, adopted from the old common-Latin word for “chew.”

Crib,” in Old English also meant “manger,” feeding place, the same book also says. (That’s why this word appears in Isaiah 1:3 KJV.) “Crib” only started to be used for “a child’s bed” sometime in the 17th century.

The corn crib in the photo above isn’t exactly a feeder, but is nevertheless a holder for food.

Creche is simply the French word for crib, feeder, food holder.

Think about it: Jesus as a babe was laid in a rough wood feeding trough, in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”

He grew up and went out and fed multitudes with bread broken and torn, then told them He was the Bread of Life.

Shortly thereafter, He broke bread alone in an upper room with His disciples and told them, “This is my body, given for you… Take, and eat.”

And right after that he allowed His body to be laid out again on rough wood, not of a manger but an execution device, yet still the provision place for our Bread of Life.

Back in Bethlehem, three decades before, stretched out long upon that crib, that manger, fell the foreshadow of the cross. And so I did love the rough spot-lit manger standing at Christmastime before and beneath a rough-wood cross, where at a certain place at a certain time of day you could see the shadow of cross on manger. And ponder.

Ponder these wonders with me now, and share my awe.

[There’s yet more “astounding meaning wrapped up in this humble thing,” a manger. Lately Isaiah 1:2-3 has been ringing echoes through my mind and heart. And I can’t help tying it all together: those two verses, the manger, the cross, and Christ, as both the Word of Life and the giver of “word(s) of eternal life” (John 6:68). More on this next time, God willing…]


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12 thoughts on “The Other Half of the Decoration

  1. Wow. That was fascinating! I never tied that together before, but obviously God did… I’ll be looking for the Light to cast the image of the cross over the trough that signifies the sacrifice of our Bread of life. Excellent.

  2. A King born and placed in a feed trough for the animals. Who would have ever imagined it?
    What a lovely thought that humble Jesus is now elevated because he accomplished the Plan the Father set before him. He now sits on the throne and interceeds for us.

  3. You put it well, Floyd: that God had all those things tied together. I keep getting stunned by all the connections that pop up in scripture.
    Hope you and yours have a blessed Christmastime!

  4. Extraordinary, isn’t it, Hazel? Just His coming into our tainted little world seems such a low stoop, and then even a feed trough bed, right from the start. How worthy He is to have His high place, and how blessed we are by His interceding!

  5. Food for our soul … water for our spirit. I’m going to have to get me that book (Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins) Right up my alley! 🙂
    Thanks Sylvia!

  6. Felecia,
    Ah, another word lover! I hope that book’s still in print. It’s a good one. It was published in 1990. I got it at a used book store. It wasn’t much used, either! Not everyone goes in for word origins. Me, I love to learn what they have to teach me. Glad you stopped over here to visit!

  7. We are entwined, Sylvia…twins separated at birth. No, I had not read this before I wrote mine. How very much like God to bind us together in such a way, and yet creating us so that our individual ways come through to bless one another, and, hopefully, others. It seems you certainly blessed others here! I love your comment sections!

  8. I hadn’t thought about all the symbolic meanings of the manger. Very interesting and inspiring, Sylvia. And so cool that the cross casts a shadow on “the other half of your favorite decoration.” You must share a photo of that shadow sometime. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. That is amazing, isn’t it, Dawn? That we should both think about and write about “manger” and the French and the meanings, right in the same week! And I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that anywhere else! A real “God-incidence”! So glad we both have our minds entwined around the same things. It makes for deeper meaning to the holiday, doesn’t it?
    And yes, I love when the comments go into a real interacting mode. They become as big a part of the post as the main article. I ought to take the time to leave comments more myself, I guess. 🙁 So glad you left yours!

  10. Hi Beth,
    Somewhere (but where?) I have an old photo I shot of the two parts together, BDC (Before Digital Camera), but I never did take a picture of the shadow falling on it. Once, not long ago, I saw such an illustration (drawn) on a Christmas card or devotional, though. Very moving.
    Ah, well, just the picture in my mind reminds me, that shadow hung over His whole earthly life. How great His grace and mercy!

  11. Pam, now you must go to Dawn’s website (click on her name above) and read “Going to the Trough”! (And while you’re getting ready to click her name, be sure to read her comment.)

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