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Living Nativity Scenes

District Taormina - Catania - Etna


During Christmas Holidays, is quite common in Sicily to run into Living Nativity Scenes all over the region. It is a representation of the Holy Family in the stables in Bethlehem.

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first public nativity scene, presepe or presepio, as the Italians call them, in 1223.

People from the villages usually perform the roles of the nativity, which include a real donkey with an ox next to Saint Jospeh and Virgin Mary to make the scene more real. 

Each town reenacts its own version: you could meet bakers, craftsmen, musicians and shepherds, animals, stalls and refined details that will bring to life a beautiful representation of the Nativity in a unique setting.

The main charachter, the Infant Jesus, is often impersonated by a newborn of the town, held in his real mother's arms, who impersonates Virgin Mary: two very coveted roles!

Some of he most famous Sicilian Living Nativity Scenes are in: Custonaci, PollinaGiarratana, Calatafimi, Nunziata di Mascali, Terme Vigliatore, Calascibetta, etc.

Photo source: Presepe Vivente di Giarratana