Italy every region has its own traditions, especially at Christmas. However, some of these traditions are generally the same in the whole country. So, let’s see the most common Christmas customs in Italy.
Christmas eve is an important day in the whole country. However, traditions change a little bit depending on the region. In some regions the 24th is the day where people meet friends and some relatives to exchange gifts and to wish them merry Christmas.
In some other regions, instead, especially in the South, people organize big dinners with their family where they usually serve fish-based dishes.
Midnight mass is a very popular event among Italians. It’s held at the 24th of December at midnight. People like to gather in the church to listen to the service and spiritually celebrate Christ’s birth.
So, if you want to find a place to sit, be sure to well arrive in advance. Also, some churches aren’t famous for the heating so, be sure to dress in warm clothes. Of course, if you can’t go to the midnight mass, don’t worry, because there will still be mass on the 25th in the morning and in the evening.
The advent calendar
The advent calendar seems to be a tradition that originated in Germany in 1908. However, it has spread in Italy as well, especially in some regions.
The advent calendar is a special calendar that is used to count the days of the Advent and it’s particularly loved by children. The calendar usually covers the period from the 1st of December to the 24th of December and can picture winter landscapes, Santa Claus, the nativity scene, etc.
Behind each number there is a tiny door. When the day comes, children open the door. In it there are usually small pieces of chocolate but nowadays you can also find advent calendars with small toys.
In the Christmas period, in some parts of Italy, there are bagpipers – gli zampognari. Bagpipers are of course people who play the bagpipe. They are usually dressed in traditional clothes and play popular Italian Christmas songs such as Tu scendi dalle stelle.
Bagpipers usually walk the streets in pairs because one of them plays the bagpipe, while the other plays another wind instrument called shawm.
I’ve already written something about the typical Italian Christmas markets and La befana, so if you’re interested, have a look also at those articles.
If you’re interested to learn more customs related to Christmas in Italy, you can read Christmas customs in Italy (Part 1).
What about your country? Are there special Christmas customs?
Original image by JillWellington