A Unique Christmas Tradition

Santino Filoso


Nowadays, for many North Americans the symbol of Christmas is a Christmas tree, all decorated and lit up, but if you ask an Italian what their symbol of Christmas is you will be told that it is their presipio. An example of this is my Zia Angelina. A big smile lights up Zia Angelina’s face as she shows off her Christmas presepio to me. With a lot of pride in her voice she explains her own special Christmas tradition. Every year a few weeks before Christmas she has all the grand children over to help her put together a beautiful village, which is illuminated by lights and is full of artistically carved figurines and colourfully decorated buildings. “The kids love to help me” she says. Each year she has all her children over for dinner and before dinner she gets all the grandchildren to help with the presepio. “It’s a nice time because we’re all together, and the kids love to do it”. During this time of year, many families have very important traditions that they carry on to celebrate Christmas. The uniquely Italian tradition of presepio is a great example of this. Presepio consists of small figurines, animals and buildings that are put together to create small villages and towns. While these towns or villages represent the place where Christ was born, they often represent aspects of the hometown of where the person came from. For Italians the presepio is much more important than a Christmas tree. Presepio represents spending time with the family and carrying on an important tradition. Christmas should not be about gifts or presents, as the true meaning of Christmas is family and continuing the traditions passed down through the generations, and that’s exactly what Zia Angelina is teaching her grandchildren.