Presepios were all the rage among 18th century Italian aristocracy. It was a case of each family trying to outdo the other. It was a point of pride to have as many figures as you could, richly clothed and imaginatively carved. Every year around Christmas time, each family would throw a party to showcase the family presepio and how much had been added from the year before. Legend has it that the king worked alongside the craftsmen carving the figures and the queen tore up last year’s dresses to make clothes for the miniature citizens. The scene is vivid and lifelike, focusing on the relationships between the characters. Each figure has its own role and imagined back story. Merchants and beggars, shepherds, fishermen and of course the holy family. The appeal of this display continues after centuries. It’s really a beautiful holiday tradition.