Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas/ Natale

Although Italians have adopted some of the northern European traditions the season is less commercial than in America or the United Kingdom. Many families, especially in the north, now decorate a Christmas tree in their homes, however the focal point of decoration remains the presepio or Nativity scene which represents in miniature the Holy family in the stable. These are often handmade and as elaborate as the families can afford to make them. This model of a manger is an important part of the Italian Christmas celebration, as the manger scene originated in Italy. It is normally displayed on a triangular wooden frame, supporting several tiers of thin shelves, which is entirely decorated with coloured paper, pine cones, and lights or small candles. The presepio is placed at the base of this pyramid called a Ceppo (tree of light) and the shelves above it hold small gifts of fruit, sweets and presents.
Another old Italian Christmas tradition is the urn of fate, a large ornamental bowl filled with wrapped presents, everyone takes it in turns to pick until all the presents are distributed.

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