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26 November 2009

our mini presepe

ali and i set up the presepe today, with great anticipation since the presepi are usually set up for about a month starting on december 8, the feast day of the immaculate conception. but hey, we're never home at christmas, and this year we'll be spending it in a muslim country, so i didn't want to wait until december. i want to enjoy our decorations and get into the christmas spirit earlier. we didn't add the baby jesus to the nativity, of course. that must be done on christmas eve but yet, being away, we'll add him last minute before leaving. for the same reason, santa will drop his presents earlier too. with great joy for my princess, i presume!

it was also a nice way to entertain a sick baby at home. the older she gets, the more creative she becomes. this year she was even able to put up a little lake by herself, and place the figurines in a more organized way. i totally loved the creative part as a child. putting up the presepe was entirely up to me and i even knew a secret place where to pick up all the musk. i was country, i wouldn't know where to find original materials here in the city, so they had to be artificial. the result was okay, though. 

here's our modest, little creation:

the idea is to start from the basics and then add extra details every year, so that by the time she's a teenager, alice will have lots of figurines and other items to use. we included a representation of a part of the town, we even added 2 lakes and put snow once the main work was finished. look:

compared to last year's work, you can see there's a world of difference:

the nativity scene or christmas crib is said to have originated with st. francis of assisi in 1223. athough he may not have been the first to construct one, he started the tradition when he constructed a nativity scene out of straw in a cave in the town of greccio and held christmas eve mass there. carving figurines for nativity scenes started in the 13th century. here, every church has a presepe and they are often found outdoors in a square or other public area as well.

there're lots of presepi exhibitions and competitions during christmas in italy. naples is the best city to visit for them. hundreds of nativity scenes are erected throughout the city. some creches are very elaborate and may be handmade or use antique figures. this is my mother'-in-law's beautiful presepe on the right. it was handmade by al's granddad and i find it unique, a peace of art. really.

via san gregorio armeno, in downtown naples, is the street of nativity workshops. there're artisans making nativity scenes and terra cotta figures. tiny shops sell Christmas crib figures and souvenirs, with items ranging from very high quality to inexpensive.

anyway, if you want to hear my opinion, above all the exhibitions, my favorite one remains the ones made in my grandmother's village, atessa (http://www.presepiatessa.it/index.html). this year i'll miss the magic of the visit there. it was always such a joy and so inspirational!  


  1. Mini???
    Wow, what a big job!!, impessive and beautiful!! enormous difference from last year's one...
    Italian skills for sure... Da Vinci, Miguel Angelo and now Ali...
    Hermoso pesebre!!
    10 points!!

  2. Beautiful! and very alike to Guatemalans! I will put up my Nativity this weekend, and I can't wait. In my childhood, it was more elaborated. Together with my brother, we spent hours planning where to put each figuring, house, lake, and angel. These days is simpler, but equally beautiful, and with fancier pieces ;-) Get into the Christmas spirit to the fullest! :-)


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