Thursday, 18 December 2008

Adveniet Christi Nativitas

Babbo Natale is Italian for Father Christmas. He is a tradition here in Rome too, with even young people dressing up as him and skating around the city.

The city really does take on the sense of preparation for Christmas during Advent. Everywhere there are large Advent wreaths in churches and basilicas. At the church called Ara Coeli, there is a remarkable, rather trussed up statue of the Bambino Gesu (Baby Jesus), venerated by many Romans. At the Piazza Navona, the square is filled with stalls selling various goodies - from food and drink and gareish decorations to crib sets and impressive extras for these scenes of the Nativity. Most churches set up their own Nativity scenes - with mountains, houses, scenes of town and village and country life, animals, people, caves, flowing water, lights and many a variation thereof. The church of Ss Cosmas and Damian takes the biscuit: they are worse than even Sainsbury's or Tescoe's. Those supermarket chains start their Christmas display in November or even October. The church of Ss C and D have their crib scene up all the year around - but it is worth seeing!

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