Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas in Italy

In Italy Christmas begins on 1st of December. We decorate the tree, or, more often, we make the "PRESEPE". The Presepe is a sort of little miniature of what happened on December 25th of the year 0 B.C. We put a big hut with Mary, Joseph, Jesus, a donkey and a bow. It's said that Jesus was warmth during the first night by the two animals. One time the little statues were made of porcelain, but since children have begun handling them parents decided to buy them of plastic... But in the "presepe" there's not only the holy family, we put also the three kings that brought gold, incense, and the other thing that I do not know how you call it in English... well, we represent the Bible passage about Christ's birth... we also put shepherds, with sheep of course, fishermen, curious people some angels, houses, lights animals like gooses, little lakes, usually made of blue-colored aluminum... presents are usually put under, or in any case as near as possible to the "presepe" if there are no children in the house, on the contrary if there is any we wait until 25th's night to take them out of the wardrobe... The tree is like the usual German or American one, even if someone decorates it with crystal balls and precious objects... Italian children do not hang socks in front of the mantelpiece, in fact they do believe that to their houses comes Jesus Christ in person to bring them the presents. I remember that my father gave me some corn for Jesus' camels and a glass of milk and cookies for him... I went really crazy in the morning when I saw that everything was disappeared... Anyway... let's talk a bit about the dining... some families (with family I mean grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles that is to say more or less 15 persons) take the usual X'mas dining on the night of December 24th, while others take it on midday of 25th... This meal takes more or less 3/4 hours and it's clue is when the turkey is served... usually the turkey is not the best dish, but we're all forced to say that it's absolutely great... well the meal finishes with the usual espresso and some dried fruits like figs, nuts... after the meal we play bingo, in which grannies and children always win... oh, I was about to forget!! We give our presents before the meal begins. Everyone has to have a present... so there are loads of sweaters, ties, foulards, ski sets and toys for children. We light up the mantelpiece and teenagers enjoy themselves with little firecrackers that make the elder relatives start on their chairs... This is our usual Christmas and the "presepe" is put away only on January 7th as tradition wants...

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