22 Dec 2011


Jenny Matlock
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday
A little history :

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, Italy. Traditionally, the main focus of Christmas decorations in Italy is the Nativity scene,presepio in Italian. The Nativity Scene is usually set up before Christmas, but baby Jesus is only added on Christmas Eve.

Yesterday our son sent us this picture showing one year old Toby, our grandson looking for the first time at the Nativitiy Scene and the Christmas tree.

The Nativity scene belonged to Mr. G. who got it from his aunt "Zia Maria", the sister of his father. He was 2 and it is now 68 years old. It is handmade and when you display it properly it takes the space of a dining table. When he was little his father added bushes out of moss and cotton representing snow, and aluminium paper as rivers. There was no Christmas tree. Families only had nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas.

The first thing what he picked up in Italy after our marriage was his beloved Nativity scene, called "Presepio" in Italian. On our first Christmas in our new flat we had to compromise with my (German) huge Christmas tree from floor to ceiling and his (Italian) big village. Fortunately our living room was very spacious but still he couldn't put up all the figures and houses, the way he was used to when he was a child. He had to squeeze it under the tree. Everybody coming on Christmas admired his "Presepio".

When our son celebrated his first Christmas he loved the tree and the Nativity Scene. Each Christmas it was taken down from the attic and displayed under the tree. This lasted until 1997, when the nativity scene was displayed for the last time. From this date on we celebrated with our son in London or we went on holidays on Christmas.

Now that our son has his own house where he lives in Amsterdam with his little family, the first thing he took along from our attic, was the Nativity Scene now for Christmas for little Toby.

It certainly will be quiet emotional for Mr. G and me to see our "Presepio" after 14 years when we go to Amsterdam to celebrate Christmas together. It certainly will bring back lots of memories.


MaR said...

What a beautiful tradition and priceless family possession. And how wonderful to experience Xmas through the eyes of a child again.

Happy holidays to you and yours!!

jfb57 said...

What a lovely post about the family and the true spirit of Christmas. I wish you peace and happiness!

A Lady's Life said...

Oh I am sure it will . What a lovely tradition and now its also an antique. There probably is no nativity scene like it in the world.
So special and so nice of your son to treasure it like this so his son may enjoy it too.

Lea's Menagerie said...

How wonderful to have such a tradition passed down the generations!
Merry Christmas!
Mississippi, USA

diane b said...

That is a lovely , moving story. How wonderful to keep both the German and Italian tradition going even into the next generation in Holland. The pic of Toby and the tree and Nativity scene is gorgeous. It must have brought a tear to your eye especially Mr G.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I am so glad you are going to make the trip! Have a wonderful holiday!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

This is a beautiful nativity set, I've never seen anything like it. How wonderful for generations to enjoy something so lovely.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

How wonderful. I never thought to put our nativity scene under the tree. A great story. It will be enjoyed anew in Amsterdam.

Melli said...

I'm sO happy to see that even the non-Christian families in Europe still teach their little ones what Christmas is REALLY all about. In America they steal Baby Jesus out of the Creche and scream for rights not to be accosted by Christmas decorations. Our schools are not allowed to celebrate CHRISTMAS - we are only allowed to have WINTER HOLIDAYS! THANK YOU for this uplifting post Gattina! :) I'm glad your little Toby will know of Jesus birth!

Norma said...

Just checking in on some old blogging friends from comments--2007 I think. Merry Christmas. Lovely post.

Susan Anderson said...

What a treasure! And I love the story that goes with it. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas with the family!


Teresa said...

So beautiful! I love that you managed to blend traditions to make them your own. It's very neat to see this beautiful heirloom handed down. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Judie said...

Gattina, those are the exact same figurines that I had for so many years. Rod could not find them in the attic, but I know they are there somewhere. I have always loved those!!

Have a wonderful holiday, my friend.

anitamombanita said...

I love the photo of the baby admiring the tree and nativity! And thanks for sharing a little about your traditions. Very sweet. Merry Christmas to

Jeannette StG said...

What a great tradition to put up this beautiful nativity scene! Merry Christmas, Gattina!

Francisca said...

A lovely family tradition, this special nativity. All the best of the season to you and yours!

Jenny said...

your christmastree looks so good :)
where is the rest of the tree? :) can we see all from the tree?

Jenny said...

Oh my.

Almost teary eyed here.

I hope you print that picture of Toby along with the story and save it for him for 'someday'.

This really gave me a warm glow on this breezy, sunny early January day.

Sending you warm wishes for a 2012 filled with creativity, joy and beauty!

Hugs from Arizona.