Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Italian Christmas traditions- Natale in casa Cupiello

There are oodles upon oodles of Italian Christmas traditions, many of them having to do with food and drink. Many of course are regional. And I'll get into some of these later (if I feel like it, hey-this is a blog). But at this time I'd like to indicate a relatively new tradition among some Italians. Just as we Americans will watch the great Jimmy Stewart in It's a wonderful life, and English-speaking folks in general will read, watch, see, or hear, some version of the great Dickens' A Christmas Carol, many Italians will watch this play by Eduardo de Filippo, called Natale in Casa Cupiello. Christmas in the Cupiello household. And what a household!

As far as Christmas is concerned, we ain't got nothin' on Eduardo (playwright, actor, and director of his acting company/family). The Neapolitans have been around for centuries and millennia, and it shows. Protagonist Lucariello (played by Eduardo, inset) is a middle-aged family man set upon perfecting his presepe (nativity scene) as Christmas approaches. Also approaching, inexorably, is the knowledge that his son is shiftless and will ultimately amount to nothing, and that his married daughter is about to take off with a man who is not her husband. The postponement in insight occurs at Christmas, with a vengeance.

Even if you don't know Italian, look up clips of the play in You Tube. Admire the acting of Eduardo, his gestures, his sunken cheeks. And further your knowledge of this great artist after the holidays.