Italy is a highly Catholic country and at the same time the home of the Pope. That is why Christmas is particularly important here. And it is well known that the Italians don’t usually have to be celebrated twice. But how is Christmas traditionally celebrated in Italy? From December 6th to January 6th of the new year, the Italians celebrate Christmas extensively. Instead of the classic Santa Claus, the Epiphany Befana brings the gifts in Italy and, unlike in Germany, they are not under the Christmas tree. You can find out more about Christmas in Italy from us!
Buon Natale! How to celebrate Christmas in Italy
It’s hard to believe, but in Italy Christmas is celebrated four times! There are festivities all through December, all related to Christmas. For this reason, the fir tree is already set up in the festively decorated living room at the beginning of December.
The Italians take to heart a very sociable culture. Therefore, the whole family spends the celebrations together. Many Italians go to church on the night of December 24th to December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus together. People sing, pray and collect donations. In some regions of Italy, gifts are given to children on the morning of December 25th, but are often not allowed to be unwrapped until January 6th, the last day of the festival. The entire decoration and the Christmas atmosphere will also be preserved. On the evening of January 5, the children hang up stockings by the fireplace or put shoes on so that the three-king witch “Befana” can fill them with goodies. In search of the baby Jesus, the witch flies from house to house at night and leaves small gifts. There is an old tradition that Befana is Santa’s wife. Similar to Santa Claus, bad children find a piece of coal in their stockings. Of course, it is not real coal, but a black colored piece of sugar.
The Christmas tree and decoration in Italy
- Fact 1: Nothing works without a crib! In Italy, Christmas nativity scenes are exhibited throughout the month in churches, marketplaces or in your own four walls. However, strict attention is paid to tradition: the baby Jesus must not be put into the cradle before Christmas.
- Fact 2: Especially in southern Italy, the Christmas tree is not only decorated with bright lights and a colorful ball, on some branches oranges, lemons, red peppers and colorful figures actually dangle. Also not uncommon: a built-in music box.
- Fact 3: When it comes to Christmas decorations, it can be a bit cheesy in Italy. Blinking lights, artificial fir trees and colorful pastries ring in the celebrations.
The Christmas dinner in Italy
In Italy the whole family comes together at Christmas. You can laugh, chat and feast happily. The fact that the Italians love good food is demonstrated once again by the large feast with many courses and delicious dessert. No Italian Christmas without “Panettone”. The cake specialty from Milan tastes similar to the German Christmas stollen: sweet, lots of raisins and other dried fruits. This cake is eaten as a dessert or for breakfast. Mhmmm delicious!
Since Christmas Eve was previously considered a fasting day in Italy, many Italians do without meat on December 24th. Instead, fish and seafood are served. For example, there are ribbon pasta with mussels, pasta with shrimp or risotto with seafood as an appetizer. The main course is then fish (salmon, sea bass, stockfish) with vegetables and potatoes.
The big feast will then finally take place on Christmas Day. A huge selection of antipasti, pasta dishes and meat specialties invite you to feast. From the classic lasagna to wild boar to beef tartare, the Italians do not do anything.
Before the celebration is after the celebration
Since Christmas is a Christian festival and the Pope is at home in Italy, Christmas is one of the most important times of the year. Already on December 6th the house will be festively decorated to get in the right mood. The Christmas tree is also set up early and made to glow with Christmas balls, fairy lights and tinsel. Basically there are four festive days in Italy in the Christmas season, the 6th, 13th and 25th of December and the 6th of January. The crib is a must for any Italian Christmas party. It is an important part of the Italian Christmas tradition and therefore you can find it in almost every house. Below we show you our product ideas and at WestwingNow you will find more beautiful Christmas decorations for an Italian-style Christmas party.