By By BRUCE SMITH
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Thousands attend the Mepkin Abbey Crèche (kresh) Festival each year as a way to start their Christmas season. At the abbey near Moncks Corner, they see nativity sets from the abbey's collection of more than 700 from around the world.
However, the abbey can accommodate only so many people, and the festival is held for only three weeks in November.
But people can now experience the festival year-round. The abbey has published a new 196-page book, "Finding Bethlehem." It features color photographs of manger scenes - also known as crèches - from the abbey collection and those on loan that have appeared in the festival.
The book also describes the history of the festival and the larger story of how Christians around the world through the centuries have made the scenes part of Christmas.