Blogger Holiday Traditions: Gaby of Cap Classique {Christmas Presepio}

by jacin on December 5, 2011

Today’s holiday tradition comes to us from the ever-so-lovely Gaby of Cap Classique, an amazing South African wedding inspiration blog. Gaby is one of the sweetest people around, and I absolutely adore her holiday tradition that she is sharing with us today. Here she is :)

I adore Christmas, and many of our family Christmas traditions come from my father, who emigrated to South Africa from Italy when he was a child. Our tree is always a highlight: a huge shop display tree completely covered in every conceivable ornament (from vintage Venetian glass to handmade pieces we’ve all picked up on our travels over the years) and lots of artfully arranged tinsel. It’s quite a sight, but underneath is something even more special. There’s an Italian tradition of building a presepio - a (ceramic) depiction of the nativity scene - which we’ve taken way beyond the standard Mary, Jesus, Joseph, ox and ass. Our village (much of it antique) comes complete with houses, mountains (rocks picked up on field trips around SA), rivers and a lake (foil paper), trees, foliage (fake moss) and even snow (a huge bucket of marble chips which get sprinkled heavily after the scene is set up) - you’d be forgiven for thinking Jesus was born in the Italian Alps, by the look of it. The nativity scene is there (although baby Jesus magically only shows up on Christmas morning), and includes a host of angels, a horde of shepherds (and a flock of sheep), the three wise men and also their entourage (camels, elephants, horses, people to look after the camels and elephants, etc.), and even tiny versions of the family dogs we’ve lost over the years. Behind them, women wash clothes, collect water, and have a gossip; villagers pick cherries, sell pumpkins and fish, drag donkeys to market, and discuss the news of the day on the town square. There’s even a tipsy looking old chap staggering around with a lantern, looking a little surprised to stumble across all the holy drama in the stable. It’s brilliant.

Setting up the scene became my job when I hit my teens, and now that I live in London, I don’t always make it home for the holidays unfortunately. One year that I did, I arrived back from the airport and a fourteen hour flight to find the tree all done, but underneath the villagers on strike - gathered into a mob and ‘holding’ placards - refusing to go about their business until I arranged them. A smart way for the folks to get out of the job, but also one of my favourite (and funniest) Christmas memories! This year sadly I won’t be making it back for a sunny Southern Hemisphere celebration, but you can bet I’ll be dreaming of the Alpine Christmas under the tree.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

louise {bijouxbride} December 5, 2011 at 1:09 AM

What a lovely tradition! Thanks for sharing :)


Kristina Juarbe December 5, 2011 at 6:16 AM

Really nice!!


The Perfect Palette December 5, 2011 at 7:27 AM

Lovely tradition!!

xo, chrissy


Natalie {Bayside Bride} December 5, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Aw! I love this! Such a sweet tradition!


Koru Kate ⎨Koru Wedding⎬ December 5, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Lovely tradition!


Brit @ Landlocked Bride December 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM

What a sweet tradition!


Mrs. Pancakes December 5, 2011 at 4:33 PM

oh wow..i LOVE this idea..such a great tradition!


Lena December 5, 2011 at 4:45 PM

That nativity scene is just amazing-I love this!


Aleah + Nick Valley December 6, 2011 at 3:57 PM

This series is so sweet - love getting a glimpe into our blogging pals’ holiday celebrations!


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