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There’s nothing like an enduring tradition viewed from afar to highlight the strains of mythology in organized religion. Take crèches, for example: See just one in front of your church, perhaps on a snowy night, maybe with carollers nearby, and you probably won’t feel compelled to think about what it must have been like had it actually happened: Three shamans from Asia followed a star across mountains and deserts only to stop in a barn where a carpenter and a housewife are hiding a baby covered in afterbirth in a pile of straw. But see two crèches, three, hundreds? All bets are off at the National Cathedral Crèche Exhibition. The ass made out of vegetables, the mariachi garb on the Magi, the white Baby Jesus next to the black Baby Jesus, and the fact that you’ll be seeing all this a week after Christmas, will make your head spin.

THE CATHEDRAL CRÈCHE EXHIBITION IS ON DISPLAY MONDAY TO FRIDAY 10 A.M. TO 5:30 P.M. AND SATURDAY AND SUNDAY 8 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AT THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL, WISCONSIN AVE. AND MASSACHUSETTS AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 537-2223.