My Turn: Presepio in New Hyde Park tells Christmas story
The lights in the corner dance across the room as classic Christmas music plays in the background. Comparable only to a professional display, Enzo Bifulco’s presepio, or Nativity scene, captivates all who enter his home in New Hyde Park. He created his first Nativity scene when he first came to this country to capture the magic of Christmas for his family by continuing the long-standing tradition of creating the presepio.
Enzo Bifulco emigrated from San Giuseppe Vesuviano in the province of Naples, Italy, in 1967. In addition to his chosen profession of tailoring, Enzo is a multifaceted artist whose abilities go well beyond this work. Enzo expresses himself through poetry and song lyrics that he writes in his native Neapolitan language. In addition to expressing himself this way, he created the ornate presepio with his wife, Antonette, and later with his two children, Joseph and Frank. The presepio grows and changes from year to year with new surprises to delight guests of all ages.
The presepio is a model of the manger where Jesus was born. An Italian tradition passed down through the centuries, every presepio has the same core elements of the Holy Family and the Wise Men. Those who create their own presepio often add other elements, whether shepherds and their flocks, townspeople, or even a building or two.
Each year, Enzo’s scene displays two fountains, a vast countryside of villagers and shepherds, several houses and shops, all accompanied by lights and Christmas music. The statuettes he has collected through the years were typically from his annual vacations to Italy, from the Quartiere Spagnoli Spacca, Napoli.
Recent additions to the scene include stringing star lights above the village to give the illusion of the night Jesus was born. In the background, Enzo added three panels with the image of a majestic mountain and church, further extending the line of sight of the village. To the shops, he added small chairs and tables to give the village an authentic ambience.
As a "poeta Napolitano," Enzo dedicates his poem "E’ Natale," here in the English translation, to the readers:
It Is Christmas
The Nativity is always prepared for Christmas
Not just for respect
It is a devotion
Christmas is history and life
It is a message
That is called love
You put up the lights
On the streets and all the houses
Best wishes and peace to all humanity
In the grotto there is a donkey
And a cow
In the meantime all around
All is in splendor
At midnight the Baby is born
Fireworks sound, bells are ringing
The bagpiper plays a reed
Angel and star
Why are you in the sky
Tonight we have paradise
That we hold here.
Maria Accardi Vittozzi with Giovanni and Marco Vittozzi,
New Hyde Park
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