Christmas in Italy, as well as for the rest of Europe, is a special holiday. It is usually spent with the family, and the preparations for it begin in advance. This holiday is considered more important than New Year. After all, in Italy there is a saying: “You can celebrate New Year with anyone you want, and how you want, but Christmas with family only!
The main characters in Italy at Christmas are Babbo Natale and Le Befana. Santa Claus and the Christmas witch rule the ball only during this period.
The time of their domination is divided quite clearly. On holiday night, according to myths and legends, children and adults are visited by Bubbo Natale, which in Italian sounds like “Christmas Daddy”. On the night of December 24 to 25, Santa Claus in Italian gives everyone gifts. It is customary to hang large socks by the fireplace for them. If the gift is too big and doesn’t fit in the sock, it is found on the floor.
Le Befana is a benevolent witch who reigns from the night of January 5 to 6. Her holiday has more to do with children, as she also gives the obedient something, and leaves the naughty little ones a coal instead of presents.
Among the Christmas Italian paraphernalia you can find sugar edible embers, which the Italians present to each other in order to make fun of those who, in their opinion, behaved badly.
There is also the belief that Befana is a Roman goddess. There is a story about how the wise men knocked on the door of the old woman Befana. But, at first, she refused to let them stay overnight. So the wise men went away. Soon Befana regretted her action, and ran looking for travelers, taking with her edible gifts. But she could not find any. So now she flies from house to house on her broom, leaving gifts, and hoping to find her unwelcome guests. Italians love this Christmas character so much that they even named a shopping center in her honor, located in Rimini.
Italian Traditions and Christmas
Thank goodness they no longer throw furniture out of windows in Italy, which used to be considered a Christmas tradition. Without getting rid of the old, something new could not come into the house. But now happiness is lured into Italian homes in other ways.
For example, it is mandatory to wear red under the holiday outfits and underwear. This is done not only by women, but also by men. This is probably why many lingerie stores display so many “red” items in their windows at Christmas.
Another ritual is closely related to holiday figurines and sculptures. Italy is a religious country. Therefore, on the main holiday of the year, everyone tries to get to church services. And at home on the shelves are big and small figurines of plaster in the form of biblical characters. Traditionally, each year the collection of figurines is replenished with new exhibits.
Before the Christmas week the Italian housewives thoroughly clean their homes. Everywhere is put in order and the kind of cleanliness that could be the envy of professionals from specialized companies.
The cleaning ritual also belongs to the Christmas traditions. Especially for the Christmas week rehearsals and performances. They can be seen in the streets, schools and churches. This is as natural as the holiday table, which Italians decorate with special dishes.
Italian Cuisine for Christmas
Panettone is a holiday bread that is baked according to a special recipe. It is obligatory to buy or make it yourself. Without its presence on the table, the holiday cannot be considered a success.
There is a beautiful legend associated with this bread. Once a young man fell so much in love with the baker’s daughter that he asked him to work with him. And to surprise everyone, he invented a wonderful recipe for delicious bread. So he won the favor of his beloved and her family.
In panettone, in addition to the standard ingredients, they add butter, eggs, and sometimes candied fruits. They also increase the fermentation time of the dough. And at the end you get a fragrant kulich with a long shelf life.
On the Christmas table they put wines, oven-baked turkey, many kinds of cheese and sweets. Everything else depends on the imagination of the lady of the house. There is a belief that at Christmas time it is necessary to eat a lot of lentils. Thanks to this product you can attract the energies of wealth for the year ahead.
Italian Christmas decorations
All cities in Italy on this holiday heavily transformed. In the streets are hung beautiful illuminations, decorated Christmas trees. Christmas markets and fairs with all sorts of entertainment begin to work. Many souvenirs are sold.
In their homes, Italians also put Christmas trees. They hang the following decorations on them:
- Rocking horses;
- Figurines of Christmas characters;
Buying a star is considered a must. And without a candle decorated wreath, according to Italians, it is impossible to feel the holiday spirit. On the front door also attach a beautiful spruce wreath with red ribbons and bells.
In addition to traditional decorations, generally accepted decorations are also popular in Italy: garlands, balloons, candles. All transport runs on a special schedule during Christmas week. And at work, reduced days begin.
Christmas Italy is a magnificent sight. Christmas in Italy it is not customary to celebrate Christmas alone. And if the family is far away, there are sure to be Italian friends who will invite you to celebrate it with them. The best holiday gifts for adults are considered useful in everyday life. And children are gifted with toys and books. Books are given especially many, adding to them the wishes of good health and good learning. Although in different countries the colors and symbols of Christmas may vary under the influence of fashion and oriental calendars, in Italy red and its shades still dominate. Trees, tables and homes are decorated with this color, diluting it with gold and green tones. In general, Christmas in Italy is quite contrasting. And involves fun street parties and quiet meals with the family.