The passion that Italy has for celebration paired with a long and rich history and seasonal festivals makes their incredible Christmas traditions an understandable thing. With over a thousand years of winters under their belt, Italy has made Christmas a celebration of more than the day. Here are three things you can do to celebrate Christmas like an Italian!
Italians are famous for getting the party started early, and they do so with both fun and reverence, starting on December the 8th, when they celebrate the conception of the Virgin Mary, proceeding on to the 8 days before Christmas called the Novena. During that time they go caroling around town, and you can also spot (and hear) bagpipers called zampognari dressed traditionally as shepherds as they play along to songs being sung.
Eat Like An Italian
Christmas Eve (or la Vigilia) is an interesting meal for Italians, as tradition dictates that Christmas dinner should be served without meat. Great choices include pasta and fish meals–and while the general idea is for lean, austere meal, many families end up with impressive spreads of up to seven courses! In some places, it’s called the Feast of the Seven Fishes, with clams and oysters showing up as a treat.
When it comes the time for Cenone (the big dinner) on Christmas Day the types of food you’ll see varies by region, with lots of tasty treats and desserts including panettone, a sweet bread loaf from Milan.
Follow up Santa Claus with La Befana
Celebrating Epiphany Eve, the day the Wise Men came to Bethlehem, Italian families are visited by a gift-giving stranger one more time – this time it’s an old woman with a broom, leaving presents for any good children that she comes across. If gift giving is the highlight of your holiday season, this is one last chance to give and receive!
So happy holidays from all of us here at Authentica World Cuisine to all of you. We hope you have a great Christmas break, and that you can add some of these Italian traditions to what you do!