Thursday, 8 December 2011

Albero e presepe

My friend Miky was surprised when I've told her my family makes the presepe (or nativity scene) and decorates the Christmas tree. We're not Catholics, but we're Italians and, as far as I see it, Christmas is a family occasion, more than a religious celebration. And this is true not only for my family but for the majority of Italian families.

Not to mention that, having grown up far from a religious upbringing, enabled me to truly read the Bible and not trust the leaflet and books provided at Catechismo by the priest, with the consequence my theological knowledge are probably better than a lot of people that goes to Church just for Christmas midnight mass.

Anyway, that's not the main topic of this post.

The fact is that some days ago I read about fake trees and about getting into Christmas mood and today is the 8th of December.
If I were in Italy, I'd be on holiday, as the Immaculate Conception is a public holiday. As non-Catholic, it has not a real meaning, but as Italian it has a very specific one: Christmas time officially begins.
When I was a kid, it felt like the official beginning of the Christmas season: street lights started to appear, shops opened longer hours and on Sunday, Christmas songs and films appeared on radio and TV.
Mostly for me, as a kid, the 8th of December was the day we took the Christmas decoration out of the basement, decorate the Christmas tree and make the presepe.

Once my sister and I grew up, all this decorating around the house lost its appeal, and we only started enjoying it again only when my niece was born. You need kids around to truly appreciate the cosiness of it.

My friend
Liz succumbed to the "faux tree" only this year. I always had fake ones. My grannies used to put the Christmas light on a pine tree in the garden, but that's because they got 2 things my parent didn't: a garden and a pine tree. My mum would never conceive the idea of buying a new tree each year just to dispose of it after 2 weeks and after it had spread its scrubs all over the flat.

My parents' Xmas tree is a nice mixture of decorations: very old ones, old ones, and sometimes a new decoration, just to make up for the one that got broken in the box or the one that Davide tried to eat the year before. 
Somehow we always got some decoration left over, and I normally take it upon myself to spread the cheer to other plants in the flat, such as Guinness, my beloved cactus, at the moment living with my mum.

Christmas cactus

The part I enjoyed the most however has always been making the presepe. Given my dad plans and draw houses for a living and my mum is a genius of her own, the presepe at home has always been a fully planned small town with some delirious traits of silliness and folly.
It had hills, lake, streams, a traffic light.
Throughout the year my mum and dad built the houses to put in the presepe out of everything: cigarettes packages, shoebox, tuna cans, kitchen foil, expanded polystyrene, clay, pasta, Lego bricks... 
One year we felt extremely lazy, so we used the smurfs mushrooms.
The sky had the moon, the stars, an hanged angel, UFOs, space stations...
Among the figurines of the presepe, we had the usual suspects, i.e. Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus.

Then there Gilindu the shepard, that was, well duh, a shepard, with any kind of animals in the flock, sabre-toothed tiger included.
We had exogini, smurfes and so on.About 2 years ago my niece wanted Puss in Boots to take part to the prespe and so my mum though it was right to make sure it had a place to stay... the "cometa dancing":

Auguri dal cometa dancing


  1. Mi piace questo gatto che balla!

  2. it belongs to Sara, that year she was making all the choices that mattered about the presepe... Luckily there was my mum to keep some boundaries up, if it were for my dad, well, he'd have allowed her everything! :-)