Speaking to a friend in Rome she said that the Christmas tree is a very recent addition to Italian festive decorations but that every house has always had its own little presepe. She then left the room briefly and returned with a package that contained a very special gift for us, our own little presepe that sat on our mantle piece throughout our visit to remind us of the real meaning of Christmas and how included our Italian friends make us feel.
Monday, 10 January 2011
Our part of Italy didn't seem to be big on outside Christmas decorations in the way that we are in the UK, we did see lights at some houses and the odd decorated tree but one of the main focuses at this time is the presepe, the traditional nativity display that might also depict other scenes. The church presepe in our village was for such a small place very impressive with a circular walk round the old streets passing various scenes, not only Jesus in the manger but traditional village life with relevant passages from the bible.You can imagine my excitement when I came upon this scene, women producing yarn, carding, spinning and winding. I wanted to pull up a chair get out my sock knitting and join in. This represents words from Proverbs 31 about the virtuous wife, you can find a translation here.All the models in this and every other display were beautifully dressed in traditional clothes, the women wearing beautiful hand knitted shawls, the socks also hand knitted and the shoe is the ciocia,traditional footwear in the area, the local people proudly refer to themselves as the ciociari. A neighbour told me that she had been involved in setting up the scenes and that many of the vintage clothes were hers.New mothers with their babies, the washer women hanging out lovely old socksit was delightful.