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Christmas 100 years ago in Italy – and in Italy today

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Many may respond to these articles with an attitude of “Who cares how they did things in the olden days!”

And that seems to be the thoughts of a lot of young people today – live for today and let tomorrow and the past take care of themselves.

But it has also been said that those who do not learn from history are apt to repeat it. But in this case, it is just the opposite – those who learn from the past can find great joy and comfort in repeating it. If we don’t know where we came from, many of us won’t have a clue where we are going.

This series has several objectives. 1) To share customs of old and see how they have been handed down from generation to generation. 2) To get a better understanding of the heritage of those living now… based on the customs of those from the past. 3) To equate these stores to the greatest Christmas story ever told and to share a message for this year of hope, love, and happiness.

In keeping with the series taken from a one hundred year old booklet from the library of John A. Walston in North Carolina, this next one is all about how the folks in Italy kept Christmas.

To read the introduction and the others please check my Examiner Content page for details and other countries – Denmark, England, Canada, Germany, and Holland. All of these have great messages at the end that applies to Christmas as told in the Bible.

From the one hundred year old booklet titled, “Christmas Around the World!”

Christmas in Italy: Just as it was printed in this 100 year old booklet.

“In the advent of the most Christian of observances, it is proper that the country of the Eternal City should put on its most joyous robes and to the greatest music celebrate the Christmas Mass in all the glory and panoply of the Church.

Shepherds come down from the mountains into Rome and perform on their pipes and pastoral flutes at the Shrines of the Blessed Virgin and before the doors of all carpenters’ shops in the city.

The Christmas scene is not set in the familiar evergreens of the North, but with beautiful flowers and the Praesepio takes the place of the Christmas Tree. The Praesepio is to be found in the home, rich and poor, as well as in the Church, and is rebuilt every year as the Season approaches and is rebuilt ever years as the Season approaches and in it is to be found the highest expression of the people. (Praesepio means “manger.”)

It is constructed of wood, cork, plaster, papier- mache and other materials, most elaborately, and is a source of great personal inspiration and enjoyment.

Across it move the characters of the great Drama of the Nativity, angels, flocks of sheep, cattle and the retinue of the kings in all their magnificence.

The colorful tableaux would still be incomplete if local characters also were not introduced, wending their way to the sacred grotto, carrying gifts peculiar to the region.

This, then, is an answer of the Italian people to the great call of Christendom: “ Adeste Fidelis.” (O Come all Ye Faithful) ~~~~~

This re-enactment of the manger where our Lord Jesus Christ lay is still re-enacted all across the world today. Sadly, here in America we can no longer express our faith in public places such as schools and courthouse lawns; but as long as there is mankind, it will be expressed in the hearts of believers.

As you read the scripture blow – check out the responses of those bringing honor and glory to God through Christ. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing these same things today or are we so busy making cookies, shopping, and wrapping presents that we forget about the most precious gift of all when Mary wrapped Jesus in those swaddling clothes.

Luke 2: 13-20
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. ~~~~

Will we only give token recognition of what the day is all about and then be outraged that is can no longer be taught in the schools? Are we teaching these things about God and Christ? Let this be the Christmas that we truly but “Christ” back in Christmas in our homes and in our hearts.

To see how the people in Italy celebrates Christmas today check out this link.



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