A Very Italian Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, Italians do things the traditional way.  The very essence of the season is family, love, and food (and a love of food!).  There’s also a great respect for festive customs dating back many years which are shared from generation to generation.

The Italian Christmas season generally lasts 3 weeks and begins on 17th December when a period called Novena starts.  Neighbourhoods all over Italy are filled with church services and the sounds of bagpipes and carol singers celebrating this special time.

On Christmas Eve, an age-old tradition is that of the Urn of Fate.  Families fill a large ornamental bowl with wrapped presents and gather together, taking it in turn to draw a gift from the bowl until there are none left.  It is also common for Italians not to eat meat and instead a light seafood meal is served the day before Christmas.

For most of us, Christmas is all over come the New Year but did you know that some Italians actually wait until the 6th January, also known as the Epiphany, to open their presents? Children traditionally receive a stocking that is filled with colourful sweets and gifts if they have been nice.  However, if they have been naughty, their stocking will be filled with coal (blackened sugar)! Legend has it that the presents are delivered by a witch called La Befana. The family then come together for a special meal to mark the end of the holidays.

Whatever your Christmas traditions are we hope you have a wonderful time. Buone Feste everyone!

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