Obama Figurine Back on Top of List for Italian Nativity Scenes

Category: Media & Culture / Nov 07, 2012 2:05PM EDT
Tucked away along the narrow Neapolitan street of Via San Gregorio Armeno, Italian shopkeepers began putting up their Christmas decorations on Wednesday (November 7), like they do every year. But this year, the traditional nativity scenes contained a surprise -- a proud-looking miniature of newly re-elected U.S President Barack Obama nestled amongst the sheep and Baby Jesus. Craftsman have been carving nativity scenes since the 19th century along this street and have used their art to portray important events of the times. Italian fans of the U.S. President said his likeness in the nativity scenes is a portrayal of how important his role is in today's world. Naples, Italy has strong historical ties with the United States -- U.S. forces were stationed in Naples at the end of the second World War and many Italian immigrants left the city to start new lives in the States. As a result, Neapolitans take a keen interest in U.S. affairs. The Neopolitan nativity scenes developed into an art form in the Baroque period and traditionally included biblical characters. Many Italian families have a scene on display in their homes during the Christmas period. Over the years the displays became more complex, often mechanized with miniature windmills, waterfalls and wine and olive presses to portray everyday life. Shopkeepers joked, saying for those looking for a good bargain, big discounts would be available on figurines of Republican candidate Mitt Romney -- if they got any takers.