The other day I made a somewhat facetious comment regarding the missing baby Jesus. It was the nativity outside the Florence duomo. Of course, as I should have realised, he wasn’t born yet. Today was his birthday and today he appeared. It was a Christmas miracle.
Mary doesn’t look any different but I guess he was probably dropped off by doves or a shower of gold. Actually, the Bible is a bit hazy on her giving birth. Given the father was supposed to be all powerful, all knowing and omnipotent then I’m thinking he was probably down the pub with his mates while she screamed her way through it with just the cow for company. And Joseph. I’m sure Joseph was there holding her hand throughout.
Talking of religion, Florence was awash with church bells all night and morning. I was submitting yesterday’s blog post as the clock approached midnight and the bells had already started. It reminded me of Marrakech and the bawl to prayer every few hours except not as annoying.
Not that we were in any rush to leave the apartment today. Being Christmas Day it was a lovely sleep in before dressing up and heading for Hotel Brunelleschi for lunch.
We checked in then went and sat in the lounge area waiting for the waiter to supply us with “something bubbly” as Mario called it. And, eventually he did. As the room filled up with diners, it was interesting to note those that had made an effort, dressing quite elegantly, and those that didn’t. Not that it really mattered.
Given most people appeared to be tourists I guess dressing up was not high on the agenda. Though I didn’t really like the Ugg boots. Or the tasteless Christmas jumper with the flickering light display.
As I said to Mirinda, it’s not like you can walk in off the street. The special Christmas Day lunch has been booked months ahead. How hard is it to pack something dressy? Maybe I’m being too shallow but I bothered and so did quite a few others. It does make it just a little bit more special.
The most special thing though has to be the meal. Spectacular as usual accompanied by some pretty lovely wine. Though, as Denise reminded me, I only had my own share rather than get to drink hers as well, like we did in 2017.
Possibly the biggest surprise of the meal was the fact that the birthday boy himself was just a few tables away. With his parents, Mary and Joseph, and his brother, James.
Jesus was attempting to make a spoon stick to his nose, something I generally do as a party trick. He was not having much luck and when I tried I soon found out why. The spoons at Brunelleschi are very heavy and narrow, the completely wrong type for the nose trick. I exchanged a sympathetic look with him.
It’s very difficult to pick a favourite course but, for me at least, the suckling pig just tipped the scales slightly in its favour. I wasn’t sure about the piquancy of the endive but, when combined with the anchovy broccoli it just worked. Somehow. And the meat was perfection.
Which made us wonder what a vegan would do for Christmas Day when away from home. Sure there’s places (I guess) where you can get a vegan meal but Brunelleschi isn’t one of them. Not that we wasted a lot of time wondering. We were too busy enjoying our Christmas lunch.
Having eaten and drunk and toasted numerous gods, goddesses and sons of gods, we left the hotel (wishing many “buon natale” as we went) and headed slowly and pleasantly back to the apartment.
It was interesting how many people were still out in Duomo Piazza just hanging around taking photos and admiring the now present baby Jesus. Given how dressed up we were, I like to think we drew a number of admiring glances.
As soon as we reached the safety of the apartment, the glad rags were swapped for something a little more expandable.
There was a rumour that we might pop out for an evening walk at some point. The rumour was quashed. We watched a couple of episodes of Voyager. Mirinda read and, at the risk of disappointing my one regular reader, I managed some research on the Caterham memorial.
Rather than end on that sedentary note, I want to wind up this post by talking about how stupid human beings can be. The sort of stupidity that knows no bounds.
Gary’s Christmas Story 2019
Yesterday, on the radio, I heard a story about how the Pope has given Bethlehem a holy relic. It is a splinter from the manger in which Jesus was born. It’s been in Europe for a long time (since the 7th century) and the Pope reckoned it was time it was returned to the the Holy Land.
Thumb sized, it is encased in some sort of precious metal vessel.
As ridiculous as it may seem there is a lot of people who believe this nonsense. The programme I listened to had a lot of American tourists saying how much it meant to them to be in Bethlehem and how important the manger splinter was.
Proving that people don’t bother knowing what’s happening in the world, one of them thought the wall around Bethlehem built by the Israelis in September 2000, had been there since antiquity, to “repel invaders.“
Amid the nonsense, the hype and the ridiculous belief in things that couldn’t possibly be, my favourite bit of the story was a statement made by 32 year old Sandy Shahin Hijazeen.
“When we heard that the manger is coming back we thought it would be the whole manger, but then we saw it.“
I realise that religion only works because people believe the impossible but, seriously, how can anyone think this is true? It would be incredibly funny if it wasn’t so utterly sad.
It reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian when Brian drops his sandal and everyone grabs it and starts praying to it and referring to it as the Holy Sandal.
This endeth the Christmas story.