Italy, officially the Italian Republic is a country located in Southern Europe. It is bordered by France on the northwest, Switzerland and Slovenia lie to its north, Austria is to its northeast while on the remaining other sides it is surrounded by Mediterranean Sea. Apart from this, Italy contains autonomous regions, called the Vatican City and San Marino within its territories.
Rome is the capital and the largest city of Italy.
Christmas Celebrations in Italy :
Roman Catholicism is, by far, the largest religion in Italy and hence the Christmas traditions in Italy are heavily based on Christianity.
In Italy, Christmas celebrations starts eight days before Christmas, known as the Novena and last till the Feast of Epiphany which is celebrated on January 6.
On the Novena day, musical salutes are made at the shrine of the Virgin Mary and songs are played at the homes of carpenters in honor of St. Joseph and a special Novena of prayers and church services begin.
The opening of the Holy Season is announced by the sound of cannon firing from the Castle of Saint Angelo in Rome.
Christmas markets with various stalls with typical Christmas food, sweets and gifts can be visited in many towns especially in Italy’s northern Alto-Adige Region.
St Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 and generally children hang up either a sock or put a plate on the table on Nicholas day’s eve in anticipation of gifts from St Nicholas (Italian version of Santa)
In Italy, nativity scene is an important part of Christmas celebrations. Before Christmas, generally a nativity scene locally known as ‘presepe’, is usually put up in churches, town squares and in houses of most of the people.
The city of Naples in Italy is world famous for its cribs and crib making. They are known as ‘Presepe Napoletano’ (meaning Neapolitan Cribs).
Nowadays, decorated Christmas trees are found at many places in the entire country. Decorations and huge Christmas trees can be found in important places like in front of the Colosseum or in Milan’s Piazza Duomo.
A week before Christmas, poor children dress up as shepherds and go from house to house reciting Christmas poems, singing Christmas songs and playing them on flutes (shepherds’ pipes) and in return of such acts they are given money to buy presents and treats for the occassion.
In Italy, people observe a tradition of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. They rather eat fish on this day. The Feast of the Seven Fishes (‘Esta dei Sette Pesci’ in Italian) is commoly eaten by people on Christmas Eve.
Common types of fish eaten in the feast include Baccala (salted Cod), Clams, Calamari, Sardines and Eel.
However, in many regions, there is a tradition of ovserving a strict fast on Christmas Eve which ends 24 hours later with an eloborate Christmas feast.
The festive celebrations of Chrstmas start after midnight mass. Nowadays, ‘Babbo Natale’, the Father Christmas, brings presents to children on Christmas eve as well.
In Italy, people invite their friends and family members for an elaborate Christmas meal that usually goes on all day. It includes many traditional italian dishes like pasta in brodo, roasts and sweet bread desserts like panettone, etc.
During the entire holiday season, some families, have a ‘Creppo’ or Yule Log which is burnt through the Christmas season.
The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6 to commemorate the visit of the Three Kings to Bethlehem.
On the eve of this day, Children in Italy hang up their stockings in anticipation of gifts from Befana, a witch-like character who rides around on a broom.
The Feast of the Epiphany officially ends the Christmas season, after which all christmas decorations are removed from streets and homes of the people.
Christmas celebrations are grand in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin. Apart from that notable Christmas celebrations also take place in other big cities and towns of Italy like Palermo, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Bari, Catania, Venice, Torino, etc
Forgot to tell you that in Italy, Christmas is known as Natale and people wish each other Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas saying ‘Buon Natale’
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 and Happy New Year 2017 !!!