In today’s article, I am going to talk about Christmas in Italy, all our traditions and how we spend this magical day. Read it to know more about this holiday!
Christmas in Italy is the holiday par excellence. It is synonymous with union, sharing, family, and to be ready for this holiday we prepare ourselves well in advance, starting from the end of November.
Even if Italy is a secular state, Catholicism here had and still has such a strong influence that all the religious holidays have effectively become civil holidays.
Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. In every city, you can feel a magical atmosphere. But, it is also a hectic time, during which everyone has so much to do such as decorating houses and gardens, looking for the perfect Christmas gifts as well as preparing traditional food. Speaking of food, I remember my grandmother making whole trays of cakes and fried pizzas many weeks before Christmas that she “hid” in one of the bedrooms to prevent us little kids from eating everything!
The symbols of Christmas
It is almost useless to say that Christmas without its traditional symbols – the Christmas tree and the Nativity Scene – would not be the same. Although some people side with one rather than the other, both of them have always had the same importance in my home.
Italian tradition says to prepare the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene on December 8th, a public holiday here, and take them down on January 6th, the day of the Epiphany (or more commonly known as Giorno della Befana!).
Food, as I said in the article about how to create an Italian themed evening, is a joy for us and, above all, represents love. That’s why these very long lunches are so important to us. They are not just nourishment but reflect a desire to stay together, to share ideas and experiences, even with those we don’t see often. So, what better time than Christmas do we have to spend time together?
Well, to say what we eat at Christmas is a bit difficult, because in many areas it is not only celebrated on December 25th, but also on Christmas Eve and December 26th. Ironically, it would be easier to say what we do not eat.
In my family, Christmas Eve dinner has always been an essential event, during which we “mangiamo di magro”. This is an expression that means on Christmas Eve, we do not eat meat, but it doesn’t mean we do not eat at all. On the contrary, we eat much more than all the other days, but everything is based on fish and vegetables, and fried food is the undisputed king of the evening.
On Christmas day, on the other hand, we can finally indulge in the “luxury” of meat, and it’s a tradition to eat tortellini with meat broth. All the other condiments are not accepted!
But don’t think that lunch ends with a single portion. Even delicious appetizers, second courses, side dishes and desserts are part of the Christmas lunch; also here where I live fried pizzas are typical, and so much better if just cooked.
How you can notice from this article, Christmas in Italy and for Italian families is a serious matter. It is a complex and complete experience that involves you at 360°. One of the most beautiful things about Christmas here is sitting at the table for hours and hours, but not only to eat but to spend carefree hours together. And it is not uncommon to spend the whole afternoon talking, exchanging ideas and playing with the most classic Christmas games, cards, and traditional tombola.
You may also be interested in the article New Year in Italy.
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