Liguria and its traditional Christmas decorations

Today we are in Liguria! Christmas is the most awaited festivity of the year. And liguri still hand down and respect many popular Christmas traditions.

Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy with beautiful towns, beaches and hills lying immediately beyond the coast.

confeugo-2012_3-vernergenovacittadigitale confeugo-2012_6-vernergenovacittadigitale confeugo2010-rinaldigenovacittadigitale confeugo2010_2-rinaldigenovacittadigitale confeugo-2012_5-vernergenovacittadigitale

Gallery exerpt from Visit Genoa

In Liguria the Yule log is a deeply felt tradition. In Genoa as well as in other towns a very old ceremony takes place, the Confeugo Ceremony. It is a celebration born in the 1300 and dedicated to the exchange of greetings between the People and State. As for centuries, the Abbot of the People (now an elected representative) brings a bay tree log decorated with white and red ribbons to the Mayor, once the Doge. The log then burns in front of the Palazzo Ducale. The public present at the ceremony wants to win a piece of burnt wood that brings good luck.

This year the Confeugo will take place on 17th December.

An olive or bay tree trunk still burns today in the fireplaces. It burns slowly until the New Year as a symbol of the old year that is ending.

In Liguria on Christmas Eve people decorate the houses traditionally with long strands of string with juniper berries, bay leaves, olive twigs, macaroni, walnuts and hazelnuts.

Big Bay Branch. The Christmas tree of the genoese blogger Shabby Zuccherofilato

In the old tradition a big bay branch was what is now the Christmas tree. Bay tree still represents an auspicious symbol. The bay tree had always different symbologies. For its evergreen nature, it is a Christian symbol of eternal life. In the particular case of Christmas it represents the new life brought by the advent of the Redeemer.

On the Ligurian Christmas table propitiatory symbolic elements cannot miss: a brush of heather, blessed during the midnight mass, a handful of salt, the perforated spoon called Cassoa, a loaf of white bread for the poor and another for the animals.

Our Christmas visit has to start from Genoa, capital of Liguria. Where during the Christmas time a tour of the nativity scenes is a must. The Genoese Nativity Scene enjoys prestige and boasts ancient traditions, creating, in the seventeenth century, its own style. The Nativity Scene of the Santuario di Nostra Signora Assunta di Carbonara, called Madonnetta, or the Nativity of the Santuario della Madonna della Guardia are just a few.

presepe_di_manarola manarola

Among other Christmas events to attend in Liguria, the most fascinating is certainly the Nativity Scene of Manarola in the Cinque Terre. The now octogenarian Mario Andreoli, who started this tradition in the 60s, and many volunteers build the world’s largest nativity scenes along the slopes of a hill behind the village. The life-size figurines made from recycled materials are more than 300 and15,000 bulbs light the scene.

Then a curious peculiarity of Levante is the underwater Christmas. In La Spezia, Porto Venere, Lerici and Tellaro processions take place in the water, followed by fireworks and light shows.

Since 1970, in Tellaro, on Christmas Eve, it takes place a traditional and evocative Underwater Christmas. A group of divers emerge from the water in front of the small port of the village carrying a Baby Jesus statuette in a shell, donated by Pope John Paul II. Thousands of candles, made of glass jars and wax, illuminate the rocks and the alleyways of Tellaro. The little statue of the Baby Jesus is then taken in procession through the streets of the village to the parish church of the village, where the Christmas mass follows.


Maria and Renato Piccone: the last artisans making figurines for The Nativity Scene of Albisola

In the Riviera di Ponente the Mechanic Nativity Scene of Albisola is a small gem in the church of St. Matthew. Realized at the end of ‘800, the nativity scene reproduces the village with 500 little figurines known as macaques of Albisola.

Surely there are many Christmas markets, a more recent and imported tradition. Alongside the traditional homegrown fairs they represent an appointment with handmade objects, food and shows. The stalls and small huts display precious local handicrafts of all kinds and delicious food typical of the area.

And then off we go until the next stop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.