President Barack Obama, riding on the heels of his historic electoral victory this week, has another accomplishment to boot: He will be included, as a character, in traditional Italian nativity scenes in Naples this Christmas. No, we’re not joking.
The president is poised, in figurine form, to appear next to baby Jesus, other Biblical characters and numerous other politicians who are being infused into the traditional holiday story.
While one of the Obama designs comes complete with a crown, a depiction of the former Republican candidate comes with tears streaming down his face (i.e. a reaction to his electoral loss). KSEE-TV explains the fascinating development in detail:
Italian shopkeepers are now selling a new figurine for people to put in their nativity scenes. Shops selling nativity figurines are including miniature president Barack Obamas. Some of the figurines hold a sign that reads, “God bless America.” Craftspeople have been carving nativity scenes in Naples since the 19th century. The scenes include figurines of important people of the times.
This year, though, isn’t Obama’s first foray into the nativity figurine business. In 2008, the president and his wife, Michelle, also appeared in the un-traditional Italian displays.
The production of handmade figurines for nativity scenes is big business in this southern Italian city and has been for centuries.
But beyond the thousands of angel, sheep, Mary and Joseph figures filling market stalls before Christmas, craftsmen say Obama has become a top seller. [...]
Tradition requires that the nativity scene be built up over time until Christmas Eve, when baby Jesus is put in the manger as the very last element of the display.
As always, figurine-makers provide a chance to choose a more light-hearted approach for the scene providing replicas of personalities who have made the news during the last year.
Not everyone is fond of this modern interpretation of the nativity, which also includes other world leaders beyond Obama. Some believe that it sullies the image and message behind the traditional Biblical story of Jesus’ birth.
“Something as beautiful as the traditional nativity scene shouldn’t be spoiled by these figurines of personalities and I don’t think children like them,” local Pasquale Oliva said back in 2008.