Sunday, December 03, 2006


It's that time of year again.
The holidays. White lights, snowflake decorations, reindeer and Papa Natale.
In Italy most people (I've been told) use fake trees. Last year I made a big protest arguing that Christmas really isn't Christmas without a real live tree, the scent of pine and needles littering your floor. There are live trees here but they come in pots and can be kinda expensive not to mention the care they require the rest of the year. Thus we have a plastic tree (I always grew up with real Texas there are plenty and it was always tradition with us no matter how much my inner environmentalist screamed). However I have been forbidden to put the tree together until before Dec. 8. Why? I was told this is the proper tradition and I must wait. It's The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary but since I'm not Catholic I didn't know this. I therefore am not allowed. Hmmph!

My husband suggested this year I make a presepio. This is basically a minature nativity scene like the one below.

But here in Italy it gets very complicated and at this time of year the stores break out the minature mangers, Jesuses, thee kings et al. But it doesn't just stop there. There are lakes, rivers, women cooking over mechanical flames, animals that move their heads back and forth, I am talking the whole nine yards here. It gets very complex and involved and people spend A LOT of money on acquiring their minature nativity scenes. For those of you who like pictures this might give you an idea of how involved this all is.

So when T suggested I make a presepio this year I couldn't help but laugh. Sure, I scoffed. I'll just grab my whittling tools and carve some wood or better yet I'll cast a few resin figurines to really get into the spirit of things. I mean, come on. But when I realized he was serious and he mentioned that his mother (uh-oh here we go...) always made a presepio when he was a child I didn't want to be a complete Scrooge so I pleasantly suggested I could dress some potatoes up in little cloth suits and make a river with aluminum foil. I was trying to be creative but he didn't buy it. A presepio??? WTF??? how am I supposed to MAKE a presepio? Since I'm not Catholic doesn't that give give me an alibi in this case? I think I might just make some cutouts and tape them up on the wall. Oh God, how tacky is that? Now my inner aesthetic is screaming. Oh, the torture. The tinsel and fake snow is bad enough but now a presepio? What did I get myself into?


Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Wait, are you supposed to make a presepio from scratch?

Now that my parents have moved back to the Caribbean, our real tree days are over. When I was very young (we lived in NYC) we had a very cool fake silver one. I wish my parents had kept it. Then once we moved to the suburbs we'd get a nice big fat real tree.

I guess it's time for some new traditions. My sister wants to go to the beach on Christmas day after church.

Monday, December 04, 2006 5:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i broke down and bought the fake tree. at least it is tall and narrow and full, not like the real, short, fat live trees you can find here. I cut branches from live trees so i can have the pine scent in the house. but i already put the tree up. my husband didn't care. :OD
asmerican girl in italy

Monday, December 04, 2006 7:54:00 PM  
Anonymous J.Doe said...

I've seen presepi in Florence,Italy with waterfalls. I don't think there were waterfalls in Bethelem at that time, but I'm not Christian and don't really know for sure. Anyway, Have fun making up one. Be creative. You can't go wrong.

Monday, December 04, 2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Summer breeze said...

Hey!your blog is pretty cool!so are u an american who lives in Italy???greetings from southern of Italy!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

LOL!!! You are hilarious. And, honey, had I only known, I would've made you play hooky from work yesterday and come down to Naples with us. OH BABY, manger central down there! In fact I've got enough photographic evidence for an entire post of its own, and I will definitely be linking back to this one because it's so funny.

Thursday, December 07, 2006 5:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fake trees are a recent innovation in italian tradition, not more than 20 or 30 years ago. It's done for ecologic purpose and supported by media, indeed I prefer the fake tree. ;)

Monday, January 01, 2007 11:18:00 AM  

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