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Buon Natale in Estonia!

Next week, a very big part of the world is celebrating Christmas. For many, it is a celebration of faith, but it is now celebrated by people around the world, whether they are Christians or not. It's a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have.

nativity scene

People, and especially children, also like Christmas as it's a time when you give and receive presents! Christmas is a major holiday in Italy as well. And they are the ones who haven’t forgotten the true meaning of Christmas – to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Two our Erasmus students – Valentina and Evelina – brought a piece of Italian Christmas traditions to Tallinn University. Have you heard of a ’presepe’?

A pleasant challenge

During the festive season and Christmas in Italy, a nativity scene, a ‘presepe’, is usually put up in homes as well as in churches and town squares. It is one of the most important parts of Italian Christmas decorations. Especially the people of Southern Italy are fond of their nativity scene displays.

Evelina is from Napoli and Valentina from Florence, which means they feel strongly about the display and the process of making it. Valentina, Evelina, and about 30 other Tallinn University students gathered to get to know the most important part of Italian Christmas celebrations and to start an interesting and creative process of making a ’presepe’. The display focuses of the story of Jesus Christ being born. Each detail has its own place – three kings, lots of domestic animals and of course a crib where a newborn baby will appear on December 25.

Piece of Italy in Tallinn University

The nativity scene display with a crib is usually filled with straw. This time, it has a little Estonian touch – the display is filled with fresh moss found outside the university. And the whole thing, also characters and buildings made of paper, are handmade from scratch – something even Italians won’t do during their celebrations as the characters are usually bought and placed on the display. You can see their work in Tallinn University Silva building (5th floor).


Valentina and Eveline express their gratitude towards Kristiina Rebane and the Department of Western European Studies: „Kristiina gave us the opportunity to work on the project with the students and to talk about the Italian Christmas and our traditional “Presepe”. But not less important for the making of our project was the Department and its head, Daniele Monticelli. They were (and still are) enthusiastic about the project and have always supported us, from the beginning to the end. Without their supports and help our project wouldn’t exist now.“