Christmas in Italy: For the Italians, Christmas is a party that you have to spend in the company of the family, tasting the dishes of the ‘none’ and opening the gifts of ‘Babbo Natale’
“Christmas with yours, Easter with who you want”, this motto, well known in Italy, may well explain the importance for the Italians of spending with their families the most important day of the year.
How celebrated Christmas in Italy?
A tradition that Italians (particularly in the south of the country) can not give up, is to spend next to their loved ones on Christmas Eve, on December 24, when families gather to enjoy the famous “Christmas scene”, the dinner that precedes midnight.
The Christmas Menu
The Italian “cenone” has its rules, the first of which is to eat exclusively fish. Remember that the menus are not the same in all Italian regions, but there are some typical dishes such as fried vegetables (a Roman tradition), tartines and fish salad, to start with the entries.
Speaking of Italy you can not miss a pasta dish, among the most typical are the pasta with tomato sauce and tuna, spaghetti with clams or other seafood.
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On the 25th you can eat meat. The main course is undoubtedly the baked pasta, a kettledrum with tomato sauce, meat, pieces of mozzarella and Parmigiano (cheese) on top. A plate of meat very appreciated is the arrosto, the roasted meat and the roast beef.
Both 24 and 25 and the following days, there is no lack of typical Christmas sweets. In Italy, it is not Christmas if there are no sweets! The most famous in the whole world is the panettone (Christmas cake), whose traditional version was born in the city of Milan.
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Over the years have been created different types of both panettone and Pandoro, much like panettone but without candy (candy).
The Tree and the Pesebre
According to tradition, the Christmas tree appears in Italian houses from December 8, the day of the celebration of the Imaculada, when families begin to prepare both the tree and the manager.
Putting the manager is a tradition much appreciated in the country, Italians always seek to give a very personal touch to the manger that they assemble in their home.
One of the most famous cribs is that of Greccio, a small town near Rome, where San Francisco de Assis presented the first living manger in 1223.
Tree and manger stay in the Italian houses until the day of Kings, January 6, the party called “Epiphany” or better known as the “Befana”.
The children wait for the “Befana”, an old woman who flies on a broom and enters the chimneys to leave the sweets and gifts for everyone. All but those who have not behaved well, for them the “Befana” will only carry coal (sweet, of course!).
Italian children, like those from all over the world, are the ones who take advantage of these holidays. In the city of Rome, there is a very strong tradition and loved by the Romans, which is to take the children in front of the famous “Bambino” so that they can dedicate their letters and their poetry.
We are talking about the statue of the Holy Child, kept in the church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, located next to the “Campidoglio” (headquarters of the City of Rome, next to Piazza Venezia), which according to legend would have miraculous powers and in front of which the little ones line up to read their works and ask for protection and blessings for their families.
The most anticipated moment for all children is Christmas Eve when “Babbo Natale” (the Italian name of Santa Claus) arrives and will bring the desired gifts with them throughout the year.
Many Italian adults like to dress up as Babbo Natale. To interpret this legendary character this year in a city in the center of Italy, a course will be held to be a perfect “Babbo Natale”, in the end, the Babbo Natale of the year will be awarded.