Inghams Italy Advent-1° dicembre
Mon Dec 2014
Italy is a predominantly Catholic country and the Christmas tradition here is very strong. For Italians, Christmas is primarily a holiday during which they like to dedicate their time to family and friends. Family unity is at the very heart of life in Italy and Christmas is the best time of the year for celebrating it. Of course, nowadays gifts play a very important part in this holiday, regardless if they are for kids or for adults. So since mid-November you can see crowds of Italians hunting for presents on the streets of Rome, Milan or Florence. Christmas lights are quite popular and they usually decorate the main streets of the city centres. In some cases, they are even designed by artists and used to light up monuments and landmarks in original ways.
All main piazzas and every living room obviously need to have a colourful Christmas tree. As by tradition, most Italians put up and decorate their trees on the 8th of December, the Day of the Immaculate Conception, which is a religious and public holiday in Italy.
In some families people gather already on Christmas Eve. Midnight mass is very popular among believers and it is often accompanied by representations of the Nativity. Children receive gifts from Santa or, according to some traditions, Child Jesus. Santa’s name in Italian is Babbo Natale, which means Father Christmas. Like everywhere around the globe, Babbo Natale is an elderly man with a white beard and dressed in red. In some houses gifts are opened on Christmas Eve, but the vast majority of Italians open them on Christmas Day, usually in the morning. Then whole families meet at one of the relatives’ house, usually where the grandparents (nonni) live. The bigger the table, the merrier the Christmas: it’s all about including as many members of the family as possible on this special occasion!
And what do Italians eat for Christmas? Every family will have their own traditional dish and secret recipe passed down from generation to generation. Menus will vary sensibly from North to South and you can encounter hearty pasta dishes, delicious seafood or mouth-watering roasts on the Christmas table. Then, pandoro and panettone are mandatory: the diet can wait until January!