Laura's Blog

Florentine Decorations

- by Laura Malone Elliott

December 15, 2015

Hello readers!

Sorry it has been awhile since my last blog post--like many of you, I have been very busy getting ready for the holidays and wrapping up end-of year projects!

This weekend, I decorated my house with our traditional American lights and ribbons and holly, and I found myself wondering how Ginevra de'Benci might have decorated for the holidays, so many years ago.

Instead of decorating their houses with holly or ivy, the Florentines would (and many still do!) decorate thier houses with oranges and lemons. The exact origins of this tradition are difficult to trace, but it is possible it was inspired by the popularity of the della Robbias. The della Robbias were a family of artists who produced beautiful ceramics, frequently decorated with oranges and lemons around the perimeter.



Nativity scenes were also very popular in Renaissance Florence. Called Il Presepe, they were a loved way of honoring the season. Legend has it that St. Francis of Assisi actually created the nativity scene tradition in Italy in 1225. He and his friar created a live nativity scene in order to remind people that the point of the Christmas season was the birth of Christ--not gift giving. Hmmmm I think that phenomenon seems to have lasted for awhile!


Whatever holiday you are celebrating this season, I hope it is bringing you joy and precious time with loved ones.


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