Tuesday 25 December 2012

Buon Natale!

The world's first Nativity Scene, or Presepe, in Italian, was created with live actors by St. Francis of Assissi in 1223 in Greccio, a beautiful hill town in the Sabina.  For those of you who celebrate Christmas, you probably have had a little bit of the Sabina in your home all these years and never knew it.

It seems that even as early as the 1200s things could get out of hand on Christmas, as St. Francis' recreation of the Nativity was his attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism and gift giving.

Casperia in the snow in early 2012 courtesy of Giorgio Clementi
Casperia, the town we stay in when we visit the Sabina, is famous for its monumental Presepe...

Presepe Monumentale from Comune di Casperia website
...which was recently named by the Italian government as one of the Wonders of Italy, but like many places around the world at Christmas time, they also have a tradition of a living Nativity Scene as you will see in this video

Over the last few days I have noted a number of posts on Facebook that talk about the various religious traditions whose divities were all born on December 25th (or around the time of the Winter Solstice).  

Some of the people who post these may be doing so to poke fun at Christmas, but for me, this debate only reinforces the fact that this time of year is sacred and has been sacred and special to many people and for many reasons... For me, it is all the more reason to gather with family and friends, remember, light candles, share food, and celebrate. Merry Christmas. Buon Natale!

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