BUON NATALE! When you find yourself in Italy during the Holidays, there are a few things you need to
There are many very old traditions that go into enjoying an Italian Christmas as well as some modern and American influences... But what lies at the heart of most Italy is being around family, enjoying the amazing gifts of homemade meals and awaiting the birth of Jesus. But here are a few other aspects that you may or may not realize that go on during the holidays in Italy:
I Mercatini di Natale are Christmas seasonal pop up markets, but seeing there is an entire Blog already written on this from Nov. 16th, 2016, you can please refer to it for a very detailed explanation.
Il Presepe di Natale, (the crib), translates to the Christmas Nativity
Scene is seen all over Italy, in churches, public parks.... in many different sizes, some life like, others small, some hand made, others even made of bread! (Like inside the church of St. Isidore Agricola in Palermo, an ancient brotherhood of bakers creates a Presepe di Pane, every year, to show the importance of bread in the Italian every day life.)
La Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve, awaiting the birth of Jesus tends to practically take precedence over Christmas day, Il Giorno di Natale. Traditionally speaking, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Dec. 24th, which is when Christmas Eve Dinner, The Feast of the Seven Fishes, is the main meal of the festive season (... including salmon, tuna, baccala -cod, a meatless pasta dish...). After dinner, most families make it to the Christmas Eve Mass, even if it's the only time they make it to church all
Il pranzo di Natale, Christmas day Lunch, is celebrated as the big meal of the day, unlike Christmas Dinner in the US. This meals revolves around regional meat specialties and family gathering to enjoy all sorts of homemade specialty dishes.
Il giorno di Santo Stefano, St Stephen's feast Day is the day after Christmas, Dec. 26th. Traditionally, Italians plan to visit the Nativity scenes at the various churches or will decide whether to visit Christmas markets, carnivals and festivals around town. It's apublic holiday all across Italy and therefore everything is closed, even banks. So plan ahead!!
Capo d’Anno, New Year's Eve means there will definitely be Fuochi d'artificio, firework shows! There are spectacular shows in both small towns/villages and in the big cities. But we must warn any travelers that unlike in the US, firework laws aren't always fully followed... and unfortunately there have been many injuries throughout the years. So, be careful!
Last but never least on our Holiday list is La Befana!! Santa Claus, Babbo Natale, is also a very important figure, but we all know about him! In Italy, it’s La Befana who's the hero of the day! The Feast of the Epiphany as a matter of fact, on January 6th. She has been celebrated all across Italy since the 13th Century. In classic Italian style, on Jan.5th, the eve of the Epiphany, families set out a glass of wine with a small snack, instead of the milk and cookies that Santa likes! But similarly to Santa, she slides down the chimney and fills stockings, leaving gifts and candy to the good little boys and girls, and coal to the naughty! La Befana is essentially a witch, but a good witch! She has characteristics of a typical witch including a long nose, warts, and travels the world on her broomstick (which she not only uses to fly around the world delivering presents, but also sweeps the floor before she leaves each house)! She is by far and wide the favorite tradition of children all across the country!
Buon Natale and Felice Anno Nuovo a tutti!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!