15 December 2010

corner view

corner view :: tradition

In the past weeks, I've shared a couple of our family traditions that have become important parts of our Christmas story: the gingerbread house and holiday-themed books.  Another tradition important to our family is the nativity scene which, for us, takes the form of a traditional Italian presepe, with each piece individually selected over time, mostly from Via San Gregorio Armeno in the heart of Napoli. It extends beyond the manger and includes a market scene and even a pizzeria with moving parts!

We finally unpacked our presepe box this weekend. Together we carefully unwrapped each bundle of paper to reveal its contents. I quickly scanned the pile to find the baby Jesus first, carefully rewrapped it, and placed it in reach of Young One who had her sights set on finding Him. When we set the scene, we then hid Him in the back of the manger where He will wait (behind the cow!) before reappearing on Christmas morning.

We likely won't be adding an additional piece to the scene this year, but look forward to continuing the tradition in years to come. Afterall, we don't have a water element or even a starry night, and what's a presepe without a water element?


Presepi can be found around nearly every corner at this time of year, to include government buildings.  On Sunday, January 2 from 14:00 to 18:00, the Commune of Villaga, near our home, will host a living nativity or presepe vivente in one of the caves of the Colli Berici, the Eremo di San Donato. They promise 130 costumed participants, three choirs, fifty animals, and fifteen artisans across at least ten separates scenes in the setting of a prehistoric cave, and they'll even provide a shuttle bus up to the site. 


Thanks to Cherry B. for this week's theme.  For more corner views, see Theresa.


  1. so sweet of you to put the baby within reach... and i love this great italian food x-mas stall....;)

  2. I think presepe is a really beautiful idea and so much fun for children. Corrado's father is well known in the family for his huge presepe: it takes half of the room, it contains water element and it is built with soil and sticks and stones that he collects all year round. It is truly amazing. Maybe when Gaia is a bit older we will start with this tradition. For now, we stick to Christmas tree.

    Have a happy day Dana,
    un bacio

  3. What a beautiful presepe! This region is also big on presepi, which totally surprised me as I'd always assumed that large and elaborate ones were mainly a tradition in the south. We have a small presepe that the boys made with clay when they were little, a few pieces every year. It hasn't come out of its box in a few years, though, because of the wild kitty and the little sister. Perhaps this is the right year.
    PS I haven't watched your video in the previous post yet, we're having an excruciatingly slow connection these days!

  4. very cool! this sounds a lot like spain's tradition (whatever it is called in spanish). we went to barcelona at christmastime, and it seemed as if the markets were mostly all stalls containing pieces for nativity scenes.

  5. Beautiful pieces! I used to love setting up our Nativity when I was a kid.
    Now we have a plastic set, but I think that's OK, since the kids love playing with it.

  6. Wish I could stroll an Italien village right now though I might need to invest in a better coat. Merry Christmas!

  7. This is a such a sweet tradition. I love traditions!!

    We had one from our wedding and years ago while having a party a little one took her hands in one swosh they all landed on the ground and broke. I was quietly so hearbroken cuz it was a gift. I promised myself one day I will go to Italy to buy a new one. xo

  8. I've never heard of the presepe tradition before, but it sounds like such a special one! I just love all the different family traditions for the holidays. Every family celebrates in their very own unique and special way :)

  9. Thanks for all the thoughts, friends. For me, it's like a doll house that we pull new out each year. Silly, I know. I've been taking note and gathering ideas this year of the ones we see here and there on ways to add a bit of our own personal touches to it. Most (maybe all) of the pieces are handmade, just not by us.