Photographer-In Residence for 2011

We at are proud to introduce to our readers photographer, Larry Racioppo. He has been photographing New York, inside and out for 30 years. Larry has a very special interest in the practice of religion in all its many forms. Below please find his first column for us.

Larry Racioppo

Xmas or Christmas?

Once upon a time, Christmas was a Holy Day not just a holiday. To Italian families the Christmas creche was as important as the Christmas tree. Boy did that ever change. To me, my brother and my cousins, first and foremost were the PRESENTS under the tree, then the decorated tree itself. Even window and house decorative lights meant more.

The two b x w photos (above) here are of creches, or as we called them, Nativity sets, that belonged to my nuclear family, and to my Aunt Kitty and Uncle Lucky.

Fortunately, some families still honor and preserve the presepio. Although he no longer lives there, each Christmas Frank De Bernardo assembles a large creche (below) – presepio in Italian – in the basement of his family’s Brooklyn home. It is beautiful and personal. Among the many interesting figurines is a small fading color photo of Franks’ sisters when they were children. / cell 917-523-3918

Novena is interested in receiving a photo and short note about your Christmas experience/tradition. We will try to post as many as we can before the end of the year.

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