• What do Prince William, Edinson Cavani and baby Jesus have in common?

    What did you this weekend? With Christmas appearing in no fewer than 30 days time, most would chose to start their Christmas shopping; others, erecting and decorating their Christmas tree.

    But there is one Italian Christmas tradition which most families would either be dusting off or starting from scratch, and that my friends is the Presepe Natalizio. (Christmas nativity scene)


    The "Presepe" (Preh-seh-peh) was first created by Saint Francis in the 13th century, where caves and volunteers were used to recount the birth of Christ, it was his wish to bring the scene alive so that those involved would further feel in tune with the church and Christianity (pregnant ladies were not used in the making of the production).

    The first non-life inhabited nativity scenes began to appear in the late 13th century around Rome and upto the 15th century where terra cotta models were created by artists and used by people in home and the streets.

    Only until it made its way to Naples circa the 16th century, that the real artsy folk appeared and began to make it the Christmas festivity that Italians are accustomed to.

    So what is it? 

    Think of a class room art project, where you have been asked to reproduce the nativity scene. You can't use an old dishwasher bottle but pretty much any other part of your limited/impressive artistic skills to create something which resembles the biblical description of Christ's birth and not that from the Life of Brian.

    Not something the average 10 year old can make...

    You would be amazed at the intricacy of the models today. There are specific websites which provide detailed instructions of putting one together. You tube has loads of videos with step by step instructions, and Naples has it's own dedicated street to the art of the Presepe.

    Where does it live? Sometimes in place of a Christmas tree, but more often than not, along side it until epiphany. (Baby Jesus only makes an appearance from December 25th onwards, well it would be weird before, no?)

    San Gregorio Armeno 

    Situated at the back of a monastery in Naples city centre, San Gregorio Armeno is a street where the art of the presepe lives. Consistently making all the national news headlines, it's as charming as a little old street can be, and cuter than a labrador puppy. But the reason why this street is so requested by the media, adored by the Neapolitans, and loathed by the famous elite, is that this street produces the best statues to go into any Presepe all Christmas long.

    From statutes of President Obama to sport stars like Edison Cavani and Maradona (well, he is god to Naples) to trouble makers like Julian Assange and everyone's favourite ladies man...good old Silvio (even bloodied from the "cathedral incident"), there are no limits to who the craft makers will target. If you are popular...for good or bad reasons, you will make it on the Presepe hit list.

    There you have it, religion meets art which meets popular culture. Guys like Andy Warhol I'm sure would have had a field day with something like this, but remember, for all those times you ever got your mum or dad to make you a spaceship "as seen on TV" that's nothing compared to the grief that most Italians go through to provide that extra special Christmas cheer beside the Christmas tree.

    So, what do Prince William, Edison Cavani and Baby Jesus have in common? At Christmas time they'll all be hanging out together in some Italian person's home. 

    Troublemaker? Italians don't care, if they could do the same, they would!

    Berlusconi and Cathedral-gate
    Yes, even the Italians love William and Kate

    Their new idol, well after Maradonna...

    0 comments → What do Prince William, Edinson Cavani and baby Jesus have in common?

    Post a Comment