What are you doing for Christmas this year? The Italians are known for their fantastic food, great wines and wonderful family celebrations. Doesn’t this just sound perfect for Christmas?
Even if you’re staying at home; why don’t you do something different this year? Have an Italian Christmas in Kent, or Berkshire, or wherever you may be!
What are the main Christmas traditions in Italy?
The first tradition is one appreciated by people of all ages. Don’t tell your kids this, but in Italy the Christmas season lasts a good three weeks! It starts eight days before Christmas day itself. This time before Christmas is known as the Novena.
During this period of time, children go from house to house dressed as shepherds. They play pipes, sing Christmas songs and recite poems. The kids are then given money to buy presents. In some parts of Italy, shepherds play musical instruments and sing in villages.
Another great tradition is a lucky dip at the Urn of Fate. Here, everyone gets one gift, which will turn out to either be a present or an empty box. By twilight, candles are lit around the family crib, known as the Presepio.
In a bygone era, Italians would fast in the 24 hours before their Christmas Eve feast. Nowadays, this is uncommon but it is still traditional to have a meatless meal on 24th December.
The kids wait until Epiphany, January 6th, to open their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind but ugly witch, called Befana who was told by the three kings that baby Jesus was born. She fills both stockings and shoes with presents for good children.
How to create an Italian Christmas at home
To bring the Italian festive spirit home, we’d suggest taking some tips from the traditions held over there. Although, we wouldn’t recommend making your kids wait until January 6th to open their presents! It’s unlikely they’ll appreciate that very much. However, you could try filling their shoes as well as their stockings.
The best way to recreate an Italian Christmas at home is to be inspired by their food. For many, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a turkey. Fear not! The Italians also enjoy a stuffed turkey on the big day. Or if you’re feeling brave, why not try a proper Italian Christmas lunch and serve eel?
For a starter, why not cook pasta in broth which is common across Italy. And for dessert, the sweet bread, panettone, is a favourite. Panettone is available in supermarkets across the UK so it’s really easy to get your hands on.
Whatever you do this Christmas, we hope you have a good one. Will you be trying some Italian recipes? Let us know in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your recipes.