The Feast of the Immaculate Conception or Immacolata Concezione held on December 8, is an important day for Roman Catholics all over the world. In Italy, it is a public holiday and the unofficial start to the Christmas Holiday season. If you happen to find yourself in Italy during this time you will likely find various celebrations and special masses held pretty much everywhere. For example, in Rome, the Pope travels to the Spanish Steps to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary by placing a floral wreath on the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna.
It is tradition for many Italians to decorate their homes during this time. This usually is when the Presepio (or Nativity Scene) is put together. The Nativity Scene depicts the events and characters leading up to the birth of Jesus. This is an important symbol for Italians during the Christmas season and it’s not uncommon to find churches and merchants selling Presepi of all shapes, sizes and styles during this time of year. In many homes, the Presepio is set up without Jesus in the manger. On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus is then placed in the manger completing the Nativity Scene. You will also notice many towns in Italy have living Presepi, or presepi viventi, in which the people of the town gather together and recreate the Nativity Scene.
Photo from http://www.savutoweb.it
Christmas is definitely on its way. There is so much to celebrate and so much to look forward to in this holiday season. I hope you all take time to enjoy it, because as we all know it is so easy to get swept up into the whirlwind of this particular holiday.
Wishing you and your family a healthy, safe and wonderful holiday season!