Lights, Camera ……. Action!
Coming from the UK, the “turning on” of the Christmas lights has always been a pretty momentous occasion. Big crowds gather in central London, usually Regent Street, and a hugely famous celebrity does the deed amid rapturous cheers from the crowd.
Here in Florence, the 8th December is the magic day when street lights are turned on, albeit rather unceremoniously by comparison – but even though there is less pomp and circumstance, the abundance of lights are vast. Not only are the main and side streets of Florence filled with colourful displays of dripping designs, the small towns also have their own light extravaganzas in the main streets and piazzas.
When it comes to Florentine homes, they are slowly coming round to the idea that decorating the house is actually fun and colourful lights and climbing santas are becoming regular features.
The main focus of Christmas decorations in Italy is the presepe, 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. Presepe are usually set up for about a month, starting around December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.
All the churches and almost everybody in Italy try to compete for the most beautiful nativity mangers during Christmas. Naples is the place where most of these mangers are manufactured. In fact, the most beautiful Cribs are set up in churches and people go around Naples to view and compare the nativity scenes.