It’s a well-known fact that Christmas comes from China – at least as far as many of one’s decorations are concerned. This is somewhat unfortunate, especially for our part of the world, since it’s been famous for hundreds of years for its figurinai – plaster-of-Paris statue makers – which include, of course, all those lovely characters in a traditional Italian presepe.
Fortunately, if one is willing to be either creative and make one’s own or is well-funded enough to purchase the immaculate home-grown figures in such centres as Naples and Sicily or even our own Bagni di Lucca area where there’s a factory, Euromarchi, which is supplying the figures for Bagni di Lucca’s traditional presepe in front of the Circolo dei forestieri (they also have a special seasonal shop npw open on the main road to Lucca at Diecimo) , then a presepe does not have to come from the Orient. At the most perhaps the Three Kings may come from there, however!
(Bagni di Lucca’s own Presepe in front of the Circolo)
As for Christmas decorations themselves, one can quite easily go into the forest and gather pine cones, holly and ivy and even mistletoe and make a traditional garland. For the Christmas tree itself (a relatively recent, post war introduction to Italy, brought back by emigrants from the USA when they joined their families for Christmas) then just get one with roots that can be planted afterwards in your garden or watered and fed for next year’s Christmas.
This year, we’ve had to banish our Christmas tree to the orto (allotment) where, no doubt, it will grow into a fine fir and have replaced it with a smaller version. I wonder what will outgrow what – us or the new Christmas tree?
Anyway, I suppose it’s OK to get Christmas decorations from the Chinese shop (Dolif) in Gallicano.
Quite apart from the standard decorations there are some beautiful examples of Christmas fretwork scenes which can be had for under thirty euro.
I just wonder what the craftsmen in the People’s Republic will be making out about all this. But Christmas is becoming more and more an international festival. We were amused at seeing people getting ready for in it in Cambodia last year and spraying artificial snow on their windows.
Here, after weeks of dry, sunny coldness, we’ve had some rain and snow which will no doubt please all piste-yearners. We’ll always remember our first Christmas in this part of the world when the torch bearing skiers came down from the passo Della Croce Arcana to Cutigliano. So atmospheric!
Anyway here’s our own little humble ‘mantlepiece’ shelf offering to the Italian Christmas Crib tradition. I wonder how much of it comes from ‘La Cina’?