BUON NATALE! MERRY CHRISTMAS…
Christmas Day is one of the most anticipated and exciting moments of the season of celebrations in Italy. December 25th is completely dedicated to family and good food. Traditionally, the Christmas Eve menu is mainly fish and vegetables, while Christmas Day is a triumph of meats.
Every region, every city, every family has its own Christmas traditions, but everybody agrees on one thing: Christmas Day is made to eat and the menu has to be rich, opulent and festive, the wine abundant. Among the most popular traditions we have “tortellini in brood,” meat-filled tortellini pasta in a delicious capon broth; “abbacchio,” roasted lamb with potatoes; stuffed capon, lasagna. The quintessence of Christmas, though, are two beloved sweet breads: panettone and pandoro. It is literally impossible to celebrate Christmas without them. If you would like to taste the magic of an authentic Natale Italiano, try our delicious Cova and Fraccaro selection of these special treats.
BOARD GAMES AFTER THE BELLYFUL
After the long (very long) lunch, the family plays games like “tombola,” a sort of bingo. The most famous is the “Tombola Napoletana” with funny characters linked to each number.
CHRISTMAS TREES, LIGHTS AND NATIVITIES
Starting on December 8, every single town in Italy is amazingly dressed up and lit up to shine with lights, decorations and trees. Another main star of the Italian Christmas is “il presepe,” the Nativity crib. You can find this artistic nativity scene outdoor and in every church. For an unforgettable experience, you should go to Naples and visit the spectacular cribs market in Via San Gregorio Armeno. Christmas is not only about the food and lights, it is also a celebration of music with the Zampognari, traditional bagpipe players. The performers play in squares and churches in traditional sheepskin dresses.
BABBO NATALE AND LA BEFANA, DOUBLE GIFTS FOR THE KIDS
The Italian version of Santa Claus is “Babbo Natale” (Father Christmas). The white bearded old man gives presents on Christmas Day. But he is not the only one. On January 6th, Italian children receive presents La Befana, an old witch who arrives in the night flying on a broom and filling stockings with gifts and sweets or "coal" (candies made with black colored sugar) if they haven’t been so nice during the year.
DECEMBER 26TH, MORE FOOD AND FUN
This could sound crazy, we know, but after the epic Christmas dinner and lunch, Italians gather together on the 26th to eat the leftovers. This day is known as “Santo Stefano” and is also a national holiday.
- Donatella Mulvoni