Countdown to Christmas with Christmas Cribs

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a baby Jesus made of clothes pegs, would it? We might prefer Christmas trees, but in Italy Nativity scenes, cribs, or presepi in Italian, appear in homes, shops and of course churches across the country. The tradition was initiated by Saint Francis in 1223 live with human and animal actors and continues to this day. 
This festive craft is celebrated in Rome with the annual exhibition of “100 Nativities” where the history and diversity of these Nativities are displayed with scenes from countries around the world. Each country places the Nativity within the context of its own traditions, including the materials used. 
From the Philippines
Some of the detail is extraordinary, one Nativity features running water, stone houses, a donkey turning a mill-stone and a hog roasting over a spit. 
Crib by Marco Limone
From the simple and traditional, to modern and elaborate there is a crib for every taste. Even when slightly bizarre, the figures and the scene are so instantly familiar and recognisable it captures the Christmas spirit albeit in a rather peculiar way. Cribs include those made from corn leaves, glass, bamboo, terracotta, cutlery and even knitting needles. 
The most weird and wonderful coming from Lazio with the obligatory pasta Nativity scene complete with capellini (thin ‘long hair’ pasta) representing the straw in the stable.
“100 Presepi” 100 Nativities
Sala Del Bramante, Piazza Del Popolo
Open every day from until January 8th 9.30am to 8.00pm
All photos courtesy of


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