The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - December 9

More ammunition in the eternal debate in Italy around the Christmas holidays -- what represents the season better: the Nativity scene or the tree?

For the first time in years, this poll of over 700 Italians by a radio station signals the comeback of the manger scene. The religious symbol, which can range from a tiny terra-cotta representation to an elaborate countryside scene taking up the living room, had fallen out of favor in recent years for the secular evergreen, though many homes simply find room for both.

The manger scene, or presepe, is a very old tradition - dating back to Medieval times - and many Italian towns have live representations or exhibits but that doesn't necessarily make it much of a hit with today's children, according to the poll. Recent popularity has led some cities to expand live versions of the scene.