All I want for Christmas… is a sheep

Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) is a relatively recent Christmas companion for us Italians. Owing to our Catholic roots we celebrate our Saints around Christmas time (Sant’Ambrogio, on Dec. 7th and Santa Lucia, on Dec. 13th) or witches (the Befana – an old woman who delivers gifts to ‘good children’ and coal to the ‘bad ones’ on Epiphany Eve). The crib – in Italian Presepe – is more familiar to us since 1223 when St. Francis of Assisi, back from the Holy Land, decided to represent the Nativity.

Our family sets up every year a very traditional Presepe. We are aware that historical truth is against us when we place the manger above a thick moss floor under a brown paper cave (discarding sand which, incidentally, we have plenty of in our sea-side Pesaro). We also go against the grain when we place two cows and two donkeys in the manger instead of the traditional one of each, but we all think that Baby Jesus will be warmer with four of them. Then we arrange all traditional little statues: the woman at the well, the fisherman, the shepherds and, most of all, lots and lots of white sheep. It’s not really Christmas without a bunch of white sheep, you know. Every year I get a new sheep for my collection and I can hear the Little Prince’s voice echoing: ‘draw me a sheep… if someone wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists’. No matter what you think about it: Merry Christmas!

Babbo Natale è un recente acquisto per noi italiani che siamo sempre stati più propensi a celebrare i santi (Sant’Ambrogio e Santa Lucia) o al limite le streghe (la Befana). E’ invece nostra tradizione il presepe. In quello della nostra famiglia c’è sempre un surplus di mucche e asini (per tenere Gesù Bambino più al caldo!) ma la pecora è la vera star, essendo le pecore molto più numerose degli umani. Del resto, come diceva il Piccolo Principe: ‘Quando uno vuole una pecora, è una prova che esiste’… o no? Buon Natale a tutti a prescindere!

(From DirceFoglio, Christmas edition, 2017)


  1. Love this post Simona. We have a clay Nativity from the years we live in Spain and it’s the first thing I put out every Christmas time. And in Spain all the large churches and banks (why banks??) downtown have elaborate Nativities with so many figures spread over a large area. We’d always go visit them in December. So I think I can picture you pesepio. The last time we visited Spain I bought 2 sheep to add to our set– I can’t imagine the flock if you add one every year!! Hope all’s well with you and your dear family. hugs from here.

    • Hi Rhonda! You are so sweet! Today it’s the first day I post (and get back to my blog) after Christmas. I was actually considering of quitting because I cannot keep up with all my projects (due also to my mother’s sickness that requires a great deal of time and due to my new temporary job at Caritas Foundation… that was my last 10 years’ dream: to work for a charitiy organization!). But then I thought I could give it a last try 😉 I hope you and your family, and all your grandchildren, are fine. Happy Easter to you and your family. May Easter be for us a chance to start our life anew with a new spirit of love, understanding, sharing and joy 🙂
      Hugs and kisses

      • Hi Simona!!! Easter is a beautiful time to examine our hearts and faith. It’s been a good one for me. And just want to say hooray (!) that you’re back blogging!! I know what you mean about weighing your time and deciding how to spend it. The Caritas Foundation sounds so so worthwhile. And I’m sorry for all your mother is going through. I’m glad she has you so close. I’m thinking about winding down my blog in August. That will be my 10 year anniversary of the blog. And I’m like you– thinking of how I really want to spend my days. We are so involved with the young people at church and have our parents to care for as well. And kids to keep visiting! You have to think it through. So wonderful to hear from you. thank you thank you. hugs Simona!

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