The Neapolitan Nativity Scene

An emblem of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions, the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is such an important religious symbol, that it is entrenched even into the memory of the profane. It is a magical synthesis, between sacred and profane, which ritually populates rural homes, rather than a synthesis between history and daily life, the Neapolitan Nativity scene is a handmade production revered and appreciated all over the world.

The term is derived from Latin, and the first documented observations of the Neapolitan Nativity Scene goes back to 1205. The first representations of the Nativity Scenes as seen throughout Italy in general, is that of the manger, the ox, the donkey, with Joseph and Mary near baby Jesus.

It is in the 16th century that the Neapolitan Nativity Scenes truly attempts to embody the most accurate representation possible of then-daily life, with care given to the most minute detail. In the 17th century the Nativity scenes become know for their excellence, in which time the hand work of the scenes are greatly improved upon. In the 18th century, the school of art dedicated to the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is born.

The personae shown in Nativity Scene are not your classical stereotype; with new and ongoing research, the characters and the representations of then-daily life and are constantly updated.