Christmas is getting closer, and…why not give a little space in this blog about something that has been a big part of our Italian childhood Christmas celebration: “IL PRESEPE”!
Let’s start with Greccio. In the year 1223, in a secluded hermitage in central Italy, the most beloved Saint in Italy decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a special way. Saint Francis just returned from Bethlehem, and asked a nobleman friend that lived in this small mountain town close to Rieti, to reconstruct what he had seen in Palestine. His idea was to remember the hardship of baby Jesus birth in a manger, between animals…and for this reason, for Christmas time, Greccio became a new Bethlehem. Since then, the manger scene became a traditional way to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. The central theme of Saint Francis Christmas message is poverty and humility…those specific characteristics have been replaced with our modern Christmas, which has become a day of consumerism and gifts…but still, walking along the street of San Gregorio Armeno in Naples, famous for hundreds stalls selling nativity figurines, I found myself thinking about that amazing dreamer and his special way to remind us about Jesus.