Christmas in Italy

Christmas in Italy

Christmas is an important religious holiday in Italy. Though, today only 20% of the population are believers. So it is not only a religious holiday but also a public holiday.

The Christmas season lasts for 3 weeks in Italy (december, 17th — January, 6th). Italian Christmas traditions have much in common with other European countries, but there are some special features. For example, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus, Italian children write letters to tell their parents how mmuch they love them. Nowadays especially in Northern Italy many families decorate evergreen trees.

Here are some typical Italian things:

ceppo — ‘a tree of light’ — decorated with fruit, candies, small presents and candles;

urn of fate — a big bowl, where everyone finds his present;

zamognari and pifferai — bagpipers and flute players, entertaining people;

la Befana — a kind old witch, who brings children toys on January, 6th.


On christmas Eve it’s common to give up eating meat and dairy products. When people return from church they have a piece of Italian Christmas Cake, called ‘panettone’, which is like a dry fruit sponge cake and drink hot chocolate.

The Italian like to have fish dishes at Christmas. It’s known as ‘the feast of seven fishes’.

If you are in Italy at Christmas, don’t forget to say ‘Buon Natale’ to everyone!

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