Most countries and cultures have their own Christmas traditions and the Italians are no different. At this festive time of the year, most people in Italy get involved in the celebrations in one way or another. The history and culture of the Italians have led to them following many interesting and unique traditions during the holiday season. Many of these are now followed in other locations across the globe as Italians have emigrated and passed on their way of life in New communities. Here are some of the best Italian Christmas traditions.
The Start of Christmas
When people consider Christmas to have begun varies from one culture to another. For some people, it is a season that begins as soon as Halloween is over and others think of Thanksgiving as the day that marks the beginning of the festive season. However, for the Italians, Christmas very specifically begins on the Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which December 08. This is when people decorate their homes and the public decorations are put up. For example, large trees and thousands of lights are erected in the main piazzas of the cities.
The Italians call the eight days before Christmas Novena. This is when they sing traditional carol songs in their local neighborhood. If you are staying in Italy during this time, expect to see carollers in the evenings. In southern Italy, Sicily, and Rome, you may also be fortunate enough to experience the zampognari. These are bagpipe players who come from the nearby mountains to play merry folk songs, carols, and Italian music for the locals.
Christmas Eve Options
While some Italians view the religious aspect of Christmas as the most important factor, others focus on the fun element. Therefore, those who are focusing on the religious side of this holiday will usually attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Those who are concentrating on having fun in the festive season will look at other options. People who live in the northern regions of Italy often opt to spend Christmas Eve skiing on the slopes.
The Christmas Feast
In Italy, Christmas Day is all about the food. A huge feast is served that contains multiple dishes. These often consist of pasta dishes, roasted meats, and vegetables served in a variety of ways. The dessert courses are just as important as a range of sweet treats are presented, including panettone and Italian cookies.
The festivities do not stop when Christmas Day is over for Hardcore Italians as there are many more opportunities for celebrations. December 26 is the national holiday of Santo Stefano. Italian families get together to eat their leftover food from Christmas Day and enjoy fun and games together. Officially, the Christmas season doesn’t end until January 06 and this is marked by the Day of the Epiphany. Often, families will get together again on this day to enjoy a large meal to celebrate the end of the holiday season.