Monday, December 26, 2005

Polish nativity scenes fall fowl of avian flu panic


No place at the inn for sneezing chickens in Warsaw this year.

Turkishpress reports that live farm animals have been included in nativity crèches (szopka) since the 13th century, when Francis of Assisi introduced the practice.

But not this year: "We wanted, as in previous years, to include birds in our creche alongside other animals," said Father Jan Maria Szewek, in charge of the nativity tableau at the Franciscan church in Krakow in southern Poland.

"But the farmer who usually lent us his poultry reminded us of the measures brought in because of bird flu," he told the Polish PAP news agency.

Since the summer farmers have been instructed to keep all farm animals indoors in case they sneeze in someone's face and bring the dreaded avian flu to central Europe.

As the photo above demonstrates, to compensate for the lack of characters clucking around the baby Jesus they appear to have replaced the chickens with live humans.

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