Christmas Traditions – Italy

The Christmas tradition in Italy is very similar to the UK.  Before school finishes there is a Christmas  play and children make cards for their families.

Because it is Italy, we eat lots of food.  On Christmas Eve we have a meal that is traditionally made up of 12 courses, which includes lots of fish because we don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve.  After dinner for those who are still awake (or can walk after all the food) is Midnight Mass at the local church.  Santa comes that night and brings presents for the children.  Also if you have a made a “presepe” (or crib) you add the baby Jesus.

On Christmas Day there is Mass in the morning for those who did not go the night before and lunch starts about 1/2pm and goes on all day.  People play tombola in the afternoon while eating panettone and drinking spumante.

Menu on Christmas Day can be different from family to family we don’t have a set menu like in England where most people eat turkey. It is also different from region to region. In Abruzzo the traditional “BRODO” (a type of soup) is always on the table as a starter, then a course with pasta and then meat, vegetables and finally the panettone with the torrone as well.

Children in Italy are very lucky as they have a second Christmas on 6th January which is Epiphany when the three Kings visited the stable to see baby Jesus.  On the eve of Epiphany the ‘Befana’ (a witch on her broom stick) comes and delivers more presents for the children.  After the Epiphany Christmas is over.

Lots of people then go on a diet just like in the UK!

Mariagrazia Panaccio, James and John’s Mam




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