Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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they were performed, like the divozioni, by confraternities of religious laymen. The actors were boys belonging to the brotherhoods, and the plays were intended to be edifying for youth. They are more refined than the northern religious dramas, but only too often fall into insipidity.
Among the texts given by D'Ancona in his collection of sacre rappresenta'zioni is a Tuscan " Nativita," 36 opening with a pastoral scene resembling those in the northern mysteries, but far less vigorous. It cannot compare, for character and humour, with the Towneley plays. Still the shepherds, whose names are Bobi del Farucchio, Nencio di Pucchio, Randello, Nencietto, Giordano, and Falconcello, are at least meant to have a certain rusticity, as they feast on bread and cheese and wine, play to the Saviour on bagpipe or whistle, and offer humble presents like apples and cheese. The scenes which follow, the coming of the Magi and the Murder of the Innocents, are not intrinsically of great interest.
It is possible that this play may have been the spectacle performed in Florence in 1466, as recorded by Machiavelli, "to give men something to take away their thoughts from affairs of state." It " represented the coming of the three Magi Kings from the East, following the star which showed the Nativity of Christ, and it was of so great pomp and magnificence that it kept the whole city busy for several months in arranging and preparing it." 37
An earlier record of an Italian pageant of the Magi is this account by the chronicler Galvano Flamma of what took place at Milan in 1336 :
" There were three kings crowned, on great horses, . . . and an exceeding great train. And there was a golden star running through the air, which went before these three kings, and they came to the columns of San Lorenzo, where was King Herod in effigy, with the scribes and wise men. And they were seen to ask King Herod where Christ was born, and having turned over many books they answered, that He should be born in the city of David distant five miles from Jerusalem. And having heard this, those three kings, crowned with golden crowns, holding in their hands golden cups with gold, incense,
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