The Floating Nativity

Every year Battaglia has a floating nativity scene on the canal. A couple of days ago I walked down to look at this year’s which I had noticed lit up when I arrived from the airport the night before.

As I got nearer I could see that there were lots of people on board the barge, all busy doing traditional occupations like mending shoes, catching fish, sawing wood etc. It seemed a bit of a waste of time doing all this performance when it was siesta time with not a soul about except me. Then I realised this year’s gimmick: all the figures were mechanical.

I think this year it’s more realistic than ever. There are so many sheep and shepherds on the barge, surrounding the shelter for Mary and Joseph, that it looks as if at least one will fall in. Then in front there’s a sort of raft supporting the local people performing their traditional roles. Where, I wondered, were the wise men?

Of course! They haven’t arrived yet! Once Jesus is born they will then set off from the East to find Him, or in this case they’ll come by rowing boat which will then be tied to the barge.

For me, this simple life size depiction of the meaning of Christmas as it relates to the simple lives of the people of Battaglia is very moving amidst the glitzy commercialism of Christmas.

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