10 December 2010
Posted in CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
Italy has its own Christmas traditions. One of those is Presepe (crèches), a tradition that no Italian family can miss. Settings representing the story of nativity, made of many elements, sometimes small, sometimes huge. Always elaborated, every single miniaturized piece look just like alive.
This old tradition is extremely important for the city of Naples. Famous Neapolitan crèches were created yet in 15th century. And here in this amazing city the art of Nativity cribs reached its unique beauty and perfection . Today, in the old town of Naples, walking by san Gregorio Armeno street you are astonished with all stalls and little shops selling elements and figures for this Christmas masterpieces.
Among hundreds animals and personages you can find really funny ones: people from public life, politicians, actors, football players. It is a nice walk you may take during your honeymoon, and surely something to see.
Traditional Neapolitan crèche has, apart from traditional ones, typical colourful characters:
Cicci Bacco who represents old pagan divinities, a god of vine, often shown as a man with flask in his hand in a front of canteen.
Fisherman symbolically “the fisherman of souls”. Fish was the first symbol of Christianity.
I due compari, the two godfathers - uncle Vicienzo and uncle Pascale - represents Carnival and Death.
There are also places you won’t find in any other nativity crib:
Marketplace showing activities taking place during all the year. Every one of vendors was a symbol for one month, and so: January (butcher), February (cheese and ricotta seller), March (chicken seller), April (eggs seller), May (a women selling cherries), June (baker), July (a man selling tomatoes), August (watermelon seller), September (peasant), October (wine merchant), November (chestnuts seller) and December (fisherman).
The bridge: clear symbol of passage between two worlds, death and life, connected with magic.
The tavern: as a contrast with evangelic story, sacrilege banquet symbolizing malice of the world, illuminated by Christ birth.
In many places of Campania there are associations and groups of person who every year on beginning of November start construction of crèches on open air to be visited during a Christmas walk. More, now days crèches evolved: more frequent are new modern artists, who creates unique cribs, always new and original, miniaturised crèches in a jars, lamps, dried roses, shells, or even on the top of a pin.