There is place to hope therefore that the great tradition will not die, and that the master crèche-makers in Naples and Sicily, who are the heirs of the crèche schools of the past, will go on with their amazing creations. And so in the square and churches, in the school and homes, the crèche and all the symbols of this Christian traditions are back for the joy of young and old.
The Creche tradition
The Crèche in modern times
The Crèche in the Home
- Before starting it is better to make a drawing of the results.
- Choose carefully the table where you will place the crèche: the ideal would be to be able to look the statues into the eyes. Place the table in a corner against the walls, and prepare the structure (terrain) with boxes in cardboard or wood, or make a frame in wood
- Prepare some chalk with water (you need to know the technique, otherwise use another method) and dip a large thick cotton cloth (like a sack) into the chalk, then place it on the frame modelling it to create valleys, roads, hills and mountains. Instead of the chalk, you can use special paper (there is paper already colored like the earth and grass). When the chalk is well dry, paint it in the needed color.
- Build small houses in polistirol, cardboard or wood.
- Look in parks or fields for twigs resembling tree trunks and branches, fix on them a piece of musk to make the foliage.
- Place the statues respecting proportions and perspective (use smaller statues for spots which should look in the distance.
- Place a lamp on the top, and paint it in blue to create the illusion of the night.
History of the Crèche
The Crèche in Naples
All this gave verisimilitude to the reconstruction, which was set against the landscapes typical of the countryside or of the town: markets, pubs, homes, farmhouses, ruins. The art was funded by the royal court and by the lesser nobility, and the clothes made for the Magi and dignitaries most often imitated those of the important people of the community, and were often woven in the Royal textile mills of San Leucio.
Features of the Neapolitan Crèche
The Crèche in other regions
In the 19th century the crèche tradition became a popular feature of each family, rich and poor: in each home a landscape was built with paper-pulp or other material, and small statues in chalk or terracotta were bought from the artisans.
In Apulia, especially in Lecce, the use of paper-pulp became very sophisticated: the substance was painted or treated with fire, and adapted against frames made of iron-wire. In Rome the most prominent families competed for the best, biggest crèche, set against landscapes typical of Rome or the surrounding countryside. There was the custom then to invite citizens and tourists to visit the family's crèche.