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Terza Domenica Heritage Series - Nativity Scene and other Italian Christmas Traditions

December 15, 2014

On Sunday, December 15, as part of the Terza Domenica Heritage Series, we will be unveiling the Presepe (Nativity Scene) done in collaboration with Mr. Antonio Pignalosa, a Neapolitan Presepe artisan, who has more than 40 years experience in presepe preparation and staging.

The event will start at 11:30 am with a Christmas Breakfast Buffet. We will play the Christmas game "Tombola" and continue with the screening of Mr. Pignalosa's videos of the best presepi done during his career.

Nativity scenes are very popular in Italy and are generally found in every household. This tradition dates back to the 13th century and to St. Francis of Assisi. The nativity scenes are associated with Naples, which turned them into an art form. The artisans who have carried on their craft from father to son have organized into a guild that protects their traditions. The centuries old custom of erecting a nativity scene has become the most meaningful Italian Christmas tradition.

The nativity scene that most Americans think of consists of about ten characters Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the three wise men, a shepherd and a few animals. In Italy the nativity contains biblical characters, angels, animals and people from every day life. It is loved for combining the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the daily life, prayer and irony.

Today, after a brief period during the sixties in which the Nativity scene was surpassed by the Christmas tree, the presepe is back, representing Italy and its tradition. In the afternoons leading up to Christmas, people often take an afternoon "passeggiata" (stroll) through the streets to see their local nativity scenes. The nativity scene today is not only a religious symbol for the believers, but a universal way of representing a big family who reunites and enjoys together of the little things in life. Isn't this the best way to wish you a Merry Christmas?

Admission $15 ($10 for members) - Reservations recommended.

Funded project of the New York Council for the Humanities.  The New York Council for the Humanities is a state afiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information regarding this event:

Time: 11:30 am

Contact: Garibaldi-Meucci Museum Phone: (718) 442-1608 Website:
Garibaldi Meucci Museum
420 Tompkins Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305
United States
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