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Tradition and memory

Tradition is a treasure chest of memories, but it is at the same time an objective mirror of our changeability over time .Christmas has its own meanings and symbols, teaching us a story from long, long ago, and while maintaining its meaning, it is transfigured. It would be unthinkable today to interpret the symbolic references as genuine traditions of Christmas, as the slow passage of time has degraded and faded this legacy, having replaced it with a world holding diverse symbols and values.

Christmas has deep, pagan, ancient roots. Afraid of the dark, dreaded cold winter, primitive people exorcised these demons with rituals of warmth and light. Then, the symbolic breaking of time, hopefully halting the advent of adverse events, and generating a new time, a just, more equal time. We still see vestiges of these customs in the consumption of the diseccted eel and the struffoli and sesamiello, both characteristically coil shaped. This cyclical nature of time,of destruction then rebirth, coincides every year with the advent of Christmas, which in its turn generated fantastic tales, real fairy stories woven from the legendary and the religious.

The precious custodian of such yarns is folklore. We draw extraordinary characters from this source, embedded in tales of great wisdom, who are surprising, yet unknown today-they behave freely without constraint in the narrative.

The scope of this heritage is enormous. From a literary point of view, the recording of these tales has highlighted a convergence with Italian, European and the Eastern fables, this wider view giving us new broader scope for artistic representation.
Roberto di Simone in “Personnagi di terrore, demoniac e magico religioso della tradizione natalizia meridionale”, catalogue of the exhibition, Palace of Caserta, Caserta 2008



PHOTOS by Sergio Siano