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Tailor Made Tour Experience

So you'll understand a little bit more about me. 

2020 Season's Greetings from the Crib: a tailor-made mystic experience!

The most beautiful time of the year has arrived and, even in complicated times like these, Christmas decorations create the atmosphere, bring joy and conveys warmth.
The main ornament is undoubtedly the tree, of any shape and size and adorned with anything imagination can suggest . A tradition coming from northern Europe, originally it was a fir lit by candles (very dangerous!) which over the centuries has evolved with new and increasingly sophisticated materials and figures.
classic christmas tree      Fridge magnets christmas treeVenezia Digital Christmas tree  
Even decorations inside and outside homes have become more and more daring and imaginative among bows, festoons, wood carvings, arches, garlands and lights of all kinds, up to real home-made winter wonderlands. A real tailor-made experience for every household.
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Having two children, I cannot exempt myself from "making the tree", an event that traditionally takes place in Italy on December 8 (of the Immaculate Conception). but I must confess that, as far as I am concerned, nothing "makes me feel like it's Christmas" as the Nativity scene does. I love it, I always have. My mother created wonderful ones; every year with changes or novelties that I would sit alone for hours to contemplate.
The word crib comes from Latin and means manger, the same where the newborn baby Jesus would be laid, as we also find in Italian presepe, in French crèche, in Spanish pesebre and in German Krippe
The first portrayals of the Nativity seem to date back to the 2nd century AD, in the early Christian era, as evidenced by the paintings discovered in the Romans catacombs. The purpose was to illustrate the story of the birth of the Messiah to the illiterate populace, as well as to pass it on to posterity.
We owe the first example of a living nativity scene to Saint Francis of Assisi who, in 1223, built a manger inside a cave in the woods within the province of Rieti - bringing only the donkey and the ox - to explain the meaning of Christmas to a large crowd gathered to listen to him preaching.
But perhaps you are not aware of the fact that in Venice, on the top of the north entrance of Saint Mark's Basilica (the Door of Flowers) there is a marble bas-relief of the Nativity which is contemporary to the gesture of Saint Francis, but in this case with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus! Another idea for a tailor-made tour experience with your personal guide ;).
In Italy, for obvious religious reasons (don't forget we have the Vatican and the Pope), the Crib is really a deeply rooted tradition and the best known in the world is undoubtedly the Neapolitan one. The representations of the Nativity are not limited to the Holy Family but are complemented by the creative setting of a most-often-never-seen Bethlehem , scenes of everyday life and the most varied characters. There are exhibitions, competitions and festivals and the artisans express themselves using the most disparate materials such as wood, wax, clay, plaster, and so on. There are life-size Crib statues , streams with running water and ovens with crackling fire but also painstakingly chiseled miniatures. Almost every house has its own indoor and/outdoor Crib, to the delight of me, a curious and indomitable child. In short, the Crib is taken seriously even today, despite the spread of fashions and decorations from all over the world.
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Back to me, at a certain point the contract for the making of the Crib changed hands and since no one in the family wanted to take on the task, I accepted the arduous assignment as a mission, with excitement. A hard job!
First the blue paper with golden stars is stuck to the wall of a chosen corner of the house to serve as the sky, then the mountains and the cave are shaped with brown paper and pieces of wood; then the moss (strictly collected in the mountains the summer before) is spread, leaving space to sprinkle the streets with whole meal flour (we’re supposed to be in the middle-east desert, after all!), corn, or white wheat one, in a daring interpretation of a snowy Bethlehem! Setting the lights on is the most difficult job, a real puzzle: each little light has its little house and its figurine therefore you must already have the final layout of the locations pictured in your mind. Characters, buildings and animals are in fact placed at the end, and that's the real fun. Everything must make sense: you can't put the lady holding a laundry basket or the one carrying the bucket away from the well, come on!
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So, without forgetting the comet, the angel in glory, but above all the Three Wise Men, relegated with their camels to a remote desert-dunes corner waiting for better Epiphany times, I switched off all the house lights and turned on those of the crib, remaining spellbound for a long time by the landscape that I had managed to create but above all by the magic of Christmas, which had finally blessed us.
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Merry Christmas and a healthy 2021 to everyone!
Antonella, your personal guide.

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