The Presepe of Barga

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presepe barga20091207_0028 copyCarlo Sacco who died earlier this year is still making his presence felt in Barga Vecchia as his presepe which he built last Christmas (complete with 7 dwarves and a LED light show fountain –article here) has been once again restored and put up in Aristo’s bar.

Traditionally, the main focus of Christmas decorations in Italy is the presepe (the word presepio is also used), meaning Nativity scene or creche. Nearly every church will have a presepe and they are often found outdoors in a square or other public area as well. Displays often go beyond just the nativity scene and may even include a representation of the entire village or a part of the town. Presepi are usually set up for about a month, starting around December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.

Many people set up a small Christmas crib in their house and figurines . Although the presepe is usually set up before Christmas, the baby Jesus is added to the nativity on Christmas Eve.

The Nativity scene or Christmas crib is said to have originated with St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 although he may not have been the first to construct one, he started the tradition when he constructed a nativity scene out of straw in a cave in the town of Greccio and held Christmas Eve mass there. Carving figurines for nativity scenes started in the 13th century.

Il termine presepe (o più correttamente, come riportato nella maggior parte dei dizionari, presepio) deriva dal latino praesaepe, cioè greppia, mangiatoia, composto da prae = innanzi e saepes = recinto, ovvero luogo che ha davanti un recinto. Nel significato comune il presepe indica la scena della nascita di Cristo, derivata dalle sacre rappresentazioni medievali – source

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