Christmas is Alive in Assisi
Last-minute shopping forays, hours of cooking up a feast, gift-wrapping marathons, and a furious flurry of holiday party preparations: a few moments of Christmastime for many.
But in some tiny mountain villages of Umbria, the locals live their Christmas in another way: by serenelybringing to life the first Christmas. Literally.
San Francesco created the first “living creche” – presepe vivente – in the early 13th-century in the Latium (today) mountain town of Greccio. The tradition lives on in small villages near Assisi – San Gregorio, Armenzano and Petrignano – where the villagers dress up and act out Bethelehem scenes on December 25, 26 and January 1st and 6th (the Magi arrive!). The night of December 24th, too, in San Gregorio.
And the walled medieval town of Armenzano was transformed into Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. The vaulted medieval cellars and alleyways backdropped scenes of basket-makers, a street market, carpenters, wool-carders, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, the dyeing of cloths, weaving and a mill where wheat was being ground into flour.
Visiting children offered him fistfuls of hay before they headed on with their parents to see more of the Armenzano presepe vivente wonders.
Click here to read more about the presepe vivente
Read more about Assisi Christmas traditions