Gesù Bambino and the Presepio
Once upon a time there was no Babbo Natale (Christmas’ father or Santa as you call him) in Italy, but Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus)… he was the one in charge of bringing presents to children and parents, too. He would arrive on the 24th night at midnight and everyone would find their presents in the morning, nearby the presepio or presepe (nativity scene) or, more recently, nearby the Albero di Natale(Christmas tree). Gesù Bambino made sense for all of us… in fact we were celebrating his birthday and we knew that he loved us so much!
In my house and in many others we used to prepare our presepio or presepe (nativity scene) which is much more than the 5 figures I usually see here in Irish houses. Our presepio used to be very accurate in every detail. The lights, for example, would come out the ground (cardboard covered with moss, sand and pebble) in the right places, such as red for the shepherds’ fire, yellow for the houses and the crib, blue for the lake. The figures would move day by day until many of them would be in front of the crib on the 24th night. It really creates the magical atmosphere of the Advent.
As I loved it so much when I was a child, I decided to pass it to my son, Kevin. Last summer our Nonno (Grandpa) gave us our old figures (about 30, including sheep) and we built our little presepio… We had to make our own houses and inns as they were not with the figures and the postage from Italy would have been too expensive. It is not perfect (look at the pictures), but it’s our first in Ireland and I’m sure we’ll improve over time…I wish you all Buon Natale ed un Felice Anno Nuovo,
Con affetto Carolina