Art, History & Culture

Born at Christmas

nativity: the process or circumstances of being born; especially, capitalized: the birth of Jesus.

The Italian verb nascere means to be born. Like many words across many languages, nascere was “birthed” from Latin, its meaning connected to the English word nativity:

Nativity is one of many words born of the Latin verb nasci, which means “to be born.” The gestation of the word was a long one. Nasci developed in Latin into nativitas, meaning “birth,” which passed through Anglo-French as nativité before entering English in the 14th century. Nativity has many siblings and cousins in our language; other terms of the lineage of nasci include cognateinnatenascentnative, and renaissance.

— Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

This got me to thinking about the nativity scenes in Italy, known as il presepe, which are commonly seen in towns and cities across the country, as well as in homes. The photo below is from Lecce in Italy’s far south.

File:Il Presepe di Lecce - panoramio - Luca Margheriti.jpg

Il Presepe di Lecce Image Credit

The nativity scene is among my favorite aspects of the season, as it represents the meaning of Christmas in its truest form. Thank you to Saint Francis of Assisi, who launched this tradition in 1223. Looking for i presepi in Italy? Click here for a good list.

Wishing you joy, health and happiness as you celebrate the season. And, as always, grazie, grazie, grazie for sharing your love of Italy with me here at Prayers and Piazzas!christmas-1

11 thoughts on “Born at Christmas

  1. Buon Natale! Il presepio is the first “decoration” to go up and the last to be packed away. We also have a lawn presepio, those big plastic figures so popular in the 1960’s. Our church has an almost life size one to the side of the altar. All the figures were made in Italy. 🙂

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