Christmas in Italy
Italian Christmas Cookies
Traditionally, it’s celebrated December 24 – January 6 which is Christmas Eve through Epiphany. That’s when the three Wise Men gave Baby Jesus their gifts.
You will find traditional lights and decorations in most Italian homes. But the center piece of all the decorations is the Nativity.
One main difference between Italy and the United State is the lack of commercialism. For example instead of children making a list of the toys they want, the children write letters to their parents telling them how much they love them. The letter is normally placed under the father’s dinner plate and read after the Christmas Eve dinner has been finished.
A big meatless, seven fishes dinner is the Christmas Eve norm in Italy followed by a living nativity scene and midnight mass as a family. And of course at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City the Pope’s Midnight Mass is a big deal. And at noon on Christmas day the Pope give a Christmas message from the window of his apartment over looking the square.
Here are some other Italian Christmas traditions.
Ceppo: The ceppo is a wooden frame several feet high designed in a pyramid shape. This frame supports several tiers of shelves, often with a manger scene on the bottom followed by small gifts of fruit, candy, and presents on the shelves above. The “Tree of Light,” as it is also know, is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pinecones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides and a star or small doll is hung at the apex.
Urn of Fate: An old tradition in Italy calls for each member of the family to take turns drawing a wrapped gift out of a large ornamental bowl until all the presents are distributed.
Zampognari and Pifferai: In Rome and surrounding areas bagpipers and flute players, in traditional colorful costumes of sheepskin vests, knee-high breeches, white stockings and long dark cloaks, travel from their homes in the Abruzzi mountains to entertain crowds of people at religious shrines.
Merry Christmas in Italian is Buon Natale
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