Il Presepio – Italian traditional nativity scene

Ecco qui il nostro presepio! Here is our presepio and this year, we really worked very hard!

You probably already know about the Italian Christmas tradition called Presepio or Presepe. It is the nativity scene that we build at Christmas’ time all over Italy. The first Presepio was ‘invented’ by San Francesco d’Assisi and it was a ‘Living Presepio’ (using actual people). In 1223 he gathered a few people in Greggio (a rural village in Umbria) and they reenacted the ‘nativity scene’. San Francesco celebrated mass on the makeshift altar by the manger. 

Nowadays, we do have living presepio/presepe in Italy, especially in small villages (they are called ‘borgo’ or ‘borgo medievale’ as they are usually of mediaeval origin), but in most houses we build our own presepio with figurines, houses and all the possible items to recreate the nativity scene. Usually, our figurines and a few other pieces, such as the grotto, come from our great grandparents or even older ancestors. But, tradition demands that every year something new must appear and give a ‘boost’ or a new ‘shine’ to the nativity scene of the previous year. 

Allora, here is my challenge for you. Ecco (here) last year’s presepio. 

tradition Italian Beginners

And at the top of the page is the new one… could you tell me what’s new?

This wonderful Italian tradition is also spreading through Ireland. In fact, you can admire a beautiful presepio in Saint Peter’s and Paul’s church and the other one in Galway!

And here is a first year presepio from my mother in law’s house: she worked very hard with my nephews Dave, Peter and even Jacob helped with the stained glass church window!

Allora, what are you waiting for? You better start now, you better work hard, and let me know if you need any help with it;-)

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