Christmas Alley & Bambinelli Sunday

A "Presepe" From Via San Gregorio Armeno (Christmas Alley), Napoli, Italia
Presepe/Nativity Scenes in Napoli, Italia
Grazie, grazie to Amy Welborn Dubruiel for writing a great children's book out about a precious tradition in Italy.  The story begins in downtown Napoli (Naples), Italia (Italy) on an intriguing alley-type road called "Via San Gregorio Armeno," which is chock full of small shops filled with a wide variety of figurines for Christmas nativity scenes, or as they say in Italy, "presepe" (pri-SZEP-ay).  I love this story; one because it shares a terrific and well-presented Italian Christmas custom ; and two because it brought back some great memories of our years in "Bella Napoli" (1994-1997).  I loved hopping on the metropolitana near the NATO base and heading downtown to explore the many, many treasures there; the Via San Gregorio Armeno (fondly known as Christmas Alley by many military families stationed in Naples) being one.

An Adventure to Christmas Alley in "Bella Napoli"
On the day after Thanksgiving in 1996, I took my two older sons to downtown Naples and headed toward Christmas Alley so they could each pick out a presepe to take back to the United States.  I also let them pick out one for their baby brother who stayed home with Dad.  It was a rainy, miserable day.  But, we still had fun.  We purchased some umbrellas from a street vendor and began going from one shop to the next, carefully selecting each piece with care.  The photo above shows the presepe that my son Ian chose.  Ian got married this past September, so just the other day I packed up this beautiful presepe to give to him and his new wife.

Veiled Christ
Though chilled to the bone, we also worked in a side trip to the not-too-far-away Sansevero Chapel to see another golden nugget of Naples, the exquisite sculpting of the "Veiled Christ," created in 1753 by a sculptor from Naples, Giuseppe Sanmartino.

Bambinelli Sunday

Bambinelli Sunday
The story line in Bambinelli Sunday moves from Christmas Alley in Naples to Rome, where on the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday - the Sunday of Advent when the rose candle is lit, the Pope blesses figurines of the baby Jesus that people have brought to St. Peter's Square.

If you are looking for a Christmas book with a unique yet religious twist to it, Bambinelli Sunday - A Christmas Blessing might be just the right one for you. 

Other Bambinelli Sunday Blessings
The author, Amy Welborn, has pulled together a list of parishes offering Bambinelli blessings ... maybe one is near you!  If not, maybe you could celebrate Bambinelli Sunday (December 15, this year) in your own way ... maybe ask your parish priest to bless your family's baby Jesus figurine, make it the day to put up a nativity scene/presepe in your home, view/share a video clip of Christmas Alley in Naples, or tell your children about the blessings on Bambinelli Sunday ... or read a copy of Bambinelli Sunday to them!

A YouTube Video of Via San Gregorio Armeno
(a.k.a. Christmas Alley)

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Just a few memories from our years in Italy ...

These boys are now 25 and 27 years old and married,
but they were in elementary school when we lived in Italy. 
They are standing in front of our "villa" (house):
32 Parco Parchitiello, Lago Patria (an outlying town of Naples).

A Visit To Rome
It wasn't on Bambinelli Sunday, but it was on St. Patrick's Day (1997).
The little guy in the stroller is now 17.

Our youngest, Noah, was born during our last year in Italy. 
Here he is about to get his first haircut in Naples.