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Italian Christmas Traditions, what is it like to have Christmas in Italy

Nov 14, 2020

Here it comes. It’s the most wonderful time of the year again.

My son was asking me the other day what are we going to do since the world seems to be set out to cancel the holidays.

I couldn’t imagine not being able to celebrate the holidays with a special family member.

It’s interesting how I am always better at giving my kids advice that I am at giving it to myself. I learn from teaching them. They teach me often more than I teach them.

The words that came to my mind when he asked me that question, where that we should not let any of these things interfere between us going after the things we want in life.

I do understand that for some of us Christmas may look more slim this year. Or perhaps we may be facing extreme fears about what is about to come.

I have learned that when we sit and dwell on fears they distract us from doing the things that matter most. They don’t make us productive. 

So as we get ready to kick start Thanksgiving and Christmas my hope is that we’ll try and have the Holiday spirit with us no matter what our Holidays will look like this year.

Which brings me to talk a little about Holiday traditions. I grew up in Italy and many of the things I did in my childhood are still fond memories that I try to keep alive in our home now that I have a family of my own. So what were our  italian christmas traditions?

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 Many times I get asked what was it  like to have a traditional italian christmas. 

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Christmas 87

 

As a kid our decor consisted of one cute Christmas tree that we had owned for years. At least as long as I can remember. Before that we only had one tiny chrIt came with one particular set of lights that resembled Japanese lanterns. They were colorful and flickered. Our tree had also  many decorations made by us over the years with green, silver, and red balls.

 

 

My mom and dad would also hang one set of lights on our giant pine trees in the entrance of our home and on our balcony which we would only turn on at night time to save electricity and not pollute. Italians really care about the Planet and about conserving energy. 

My parents would hide our presents until Christmas morning so that we would believe that Santa was the one who would bring them the night before.

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Cri Cri (cree, cree) Italian Holiday Chocolates

 

But some things I loved was that my mom would wrap these hazelnut chocolates all around our Christmas tree. We were allowed once a day to snatch one up and eat it. We would eat them until they were all gone.

 

 

Because we were in Italy, food was a major part of our holidays. One particular bread that we loved was panettone. It was a super tall sweet bread with flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, almond glazed, and with candied nuts. We loved eating it around the holidays.We also would eat pandoro (golden bread)  which is a similar version of this sweet bread but taller.

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Panettone Bread

 

 

 

 

And then there came more chocolates. Ferrero Rocher was one of my favorite types of chocolates. And I am glad that Costco does sell them always around this time of the year.

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   Ferrerro Rocher Box

 

 

Last but not least for us were family board games. Especially during the holidays. I loved to play games with my siblings.This is something we still like to do. Here is our latest most favorite game. 

 

 

On December 26th we celebrated Saint Stefano as a major holiday which we enjoyed by having another family dinner and by staying at home. Most stores and business do close in Italy during this Holiday.

 

Our last italian tradition happened after Christmas and the New Years instead. On January 6th. Italians celebrate what is Christmas all over again for kids. During the night before January 6th the tradition says that a good ol’ witch who is kind, flies on her broom, crawls down every chimney and delivers candy and goods inside every kids’ stocking. It is during the morning of the 6th  that children all over Italy wake up and open their stockings.

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Befana (baeh-fa-na)

 

 


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Serena Essuman

   

Serena Essuman

   
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