Italy is among Europe’s many stunning countries and it is, naturally, even more beautiful at Christmas. While it rarely snows, the festivities are fun enough without it. Whether you’re taking a Rome tour or snowboarding in the Italian Alps, here are 8 Christmas customs from all across Italy!
1. Extended Events
One of the best Italian Christmas customs is that they commemorate for much longer than other nations. Their festive season formally begins on December 8 – commemorated with the Banquet Day of the Immaculate Conception. It lasts right the method through until January 6, the 12th day of Christmas, called the Surprise. This suggests that the remainder of the Christmas traditions described below last even longer than you ‘d think!
Throughout December, you can combine sightseeing and seasonal activities. Take a Catacombs of Rome tour followed by all the joyful fun you can envision, or do a Rome city tour and see the number of the below customs you can see in action.
2. No meat on Christmas Eve
In what is a really conventional custom, the Italians don’t consume meat on Christmas Eve, or la Vigilia. Instead they eat a range of fish dishes – sometimes approximately 7 courses of seafood! This is normal on the day and night before any religious event; you are expected to ‘eat lean’ and cleanse your body ahead of the vacations! Popular fish meals vary across the country. In Rome, they delight in the local meal of pezzetti: artichoke, zucchini and broccoli fried together – whereas in Naples, seafood and broccoli are sautéed.
In addition to fish, naturally, individuals of Italy have pasta dishes on Christmas Eve. Again, the specific pasta meals differ depending upon location in the nation you are. Places like Piedmont and Lombardy in the north will consume lasagna filled with anchovies, while in Naples you are most likely to be served vermicelli with mussels or clams.
3. Visiting the Vatican for midnight mass
< img src= "https://cdn.citywonders.com/media/20658/italy-vatican-at-night-christmas.jpg"/ > A popular Christmas tradition for those who live or are staying in Rome is going to the Vatican for midnight mass with the Pope on Christmas Eve. This really happens at 9.30 pm, rather than midnight, and is free to go to. It is likewise telecasted in St. Peter’s Square for those who do not manage to get into the basilica to see the Pope – and participate in the mass – up close. If you have actually been on a guided Vatican trip, then you will know big the square is; it is even more magical at Christmas time, with its substantial tree and nativity scene, and individuals commemorating the vacations as one.
4. Snowboarding into Christmas
While some Italians are attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve, others are zooming down the slopes on Christmas Day. In northern Italy individuals ski down the mountains at midnight, carrying torches as a joyful event!
5. Bagpipes on the piazzas
In different Italian cities, and especially in Rome – the Eternal city – you are likely to discover guys playing bagpipes in the squares throughout town. Known as ‘zampognari’, they dress as shepherds; this is because, typically, it was the shepherds who made the journey from their mountain homes into the piazzas to make some extra money by playing the bagpipes to anyone who would listen. This was based upon the story of the shepherds who went to Jesus on the night of his birth and played the bagpipes for him.
The zampognari custom go back to ancient Roman times, and it’s a lot fun to see it still continuing in Italian cities and hillside towns today. The pipers use brief breeches with leather leggings, a sheepskin vest with a woolly cape and likewise a peaked cap. You might be able to capture the pipers on a Rome walking trip!
.?.!! 6. Presents from the good witch
It is not only Santa who brings Christmas presents. Right across Italy, on January 6 – marking the end of the holiday – there is a visit from la Befana. This equates literally as ‘the great witch’, and legend states that on this date she would fill stockings with sweet for the children on the great list, and coal for the naughty kids.
But she didn’t stop there, as she would likewise sweep the flooring: being a great housekeeper, as remained in her nature, but it is said that this was also to sweep away the problems of the previous year and leave the family with a fresh slate to enter into the year ahead. Her household chores, according to the tale, stopped her from venturing out with the 3 kings on the night they went off looking for child Jesus. She went off herself later on, with a bag filled with presents for the newborn king.
7. Sweet treats
At Christmas, the Italians are specifically big on sweet food. Naturally, it differs throughout the nation from the city to city – however they absolutely have a cumulative craving for sweets over the vacations! Panettone and pandoro, both examples of sweet bread, are popular across the country and taken pleasure in by all. However in Siena you’ll discover cavallucci on offer: cookies embellished with the image of a home – and on a trip of Rome city you’re bound to find someone consuming spiced nut pastries known as mostaccioli.
8. Showing a ceppo
In many Italian families you will likely discover a ceppo on display throughout the festive season. Thought to have stemmed from the Tuscan location, a ceppo is a pyramid-shaped wooden frame which can be anywhere as much as a few feet high. Within the frame there are shelves: the bottom rack will show a little Nativity scene and those above will have candy, fruit and little gifts on them. A star or little doll may be put at the top, and often candles are attached to the sides – everybody does their ceppo slightly in a different way, however the basic facility is the exact same and they are a popular decoration in Italian homes throughout the vacations.
Italy at Christmas is exceptionally unique: investing your day on a Roman Catacombs trip followed by pasta and panettone is so much fun. Whether you’re investing Christmas in Rome with Colosseum views and bagpipes tunes, or in other places in Italy, you are bound to have the most fantastic holiday.