A handful of bigots literally dreaming of a "White Christmas" are kicking up a row over a nativity scene that depicts a dark-skinned Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The crèche is on display in a Verona, Italy, courthouse, Reuters reports, and has sparked the ire of the virulently anti-immigrant Northern League party.
The outburst of holiday rage coincides with the Northern League's "Operation White Christmas," a bid to purge Coccaglio, a small town east of Milan, of immigrants without proper documentation, Reuters reports.
"It is a useless act of provocation, just like the suggestion not to have a nativity scene at all, in order not to offend Muslims," a Northern League minister, Luca Zaia, reportedly told a newspaper, making reference to proposals that would bar shops and town halls from displaying nativity scenes.
"Magistrates have other problems to deal with: I hope they spend as much time thinking about lawsuits and trials," he reportedly said.
The nativity scene was the brainchild of Verona's chief public prosecutor, Mario Giulio Schinaia.
"History teaches us that baby Jesus and his parents were very dark-skinned," Schinaia told Reuters. "This nativity belongs to a universal Christmas tradition that brings together the whole of Christianity in celebration."
Schinaia also told Reuters he's glad the scene is inspiring debate.
"There shouldn't be a white or black Christmas, only a merry Christmas for everyone, of every skin color, ethnic background and nationality."
Other hare-brained anti-immigrant schemes by the Northern League have included attempts to ban Chinese food, prohibit the construction of mosques and institute segregated, immigrant-only trains and buses.
The party is allied with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and members hold several important cabinet posts.
Immigration is a political hot-button issue in Verona, with anger directed at foreigners from northern Africa and Eastern Europe who've flocked to the wealthy city.