Bits and Pieces on Christmas Traditions in Italy by mn Part 3

During Christmas time the tradition sees bagpipes (zampogne or ciaramedda) players dressed like shepherds, especially common in Abruzzo and Sicily but not only, going around cities and villages playing old Christmas tunes with their other original instruments like the flute (Friscaletto in Sicily).

il-gruppo - Copia

strumentimusic tamburine


So may are the popular Christmas songs that we are going to mention just a few of the most well known: “Tu scendi dalle stelle” here by Zampogne D’Abruzzo composed by S. Alfonso De’ Liguori (1696-1787)


An Abruzzo Christmas folk song

Two traditional Sicilian Christmas songs

This is a more modern but still very intense Ave Maria by F. De Andrè

Of course, there then the classical cantata, so many that we would need lot of space to list them here, therefore we give only one as reference “the Christmas Cantata” composed by A. Scarlatti (Palermo 1660-Naples 1725) should anyone have the curiosity to listen to it search on You tube.

We conclude now with a very famous Italian saying reinforcing the family aspect of the Christmas Holiday. “Natale con i tuoi e Pasqua con chi vuoi” which can roughly be translated into: Christmas with your family and Easter with everyone else you like to be with.     The end.

Bits and Pieces on Christmas Traditions in Italy  by mn  – Part III

Pictures by mn                                                     

Videos: All credit to respective owners

16 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces on Christmas Traditions in Italy by mn Part 3”

  1. Thank you Mn & Michelle that was beautiful & the girl that sang Alve Marie has a gorgeous voice. The education of how Italy in the different regions celebrate their Christmas with processions & music is very enlightening.
    It seems to me Italians celebrate on a more religious aspect that Canadians other than just going to church on Christmas Eve or morning not the processions.

  2. Oh, how I LOVE this whole “Bits & Pieces of Christmas” series!! It makes me adore Italy even more, if that’s possible. Thank you, mn and Michele, for all of this fascinating info!!!
    On a different note, I was browsing You Tube, and came across Frank Sinatra Night and Day 1962 Version, and it’s the exact same arrangement that Gianluca used when on tour. Check it out if you are as big a Gian fan as I am. You’ll be amazed at the similarity!

  3. glad u enjoy and thanks Michele.

    To Loretta, in larger city is the same all over, but smaller cities and villages still manage to keep traditions alive.

  4. Thanks mlla and Michele. I never associated bagpipes with Italy. There’s so much I don’t know! My favorites were the Abruzzo Folk Song and Ave Maria. Just lovely.
    mlla you have helped us understand so much. Thank you. Now, where are you spending Christmas? Does your family have any special traditions?

  5. Marie,
    Glad you enjoyed the links.

    To answer yr question, I shall spend Christmas with daughter and long time friends, probably eating more than I normally would.. as it is difficult to say ‘ enough for me ‘ as people like to show affection also through food and and on such occasions spend time preparing goodies to share with you hoping you will enjoy them and have a good time.

    When I was a child we had a litteraly home made Presepe, with all the little houses made in cork by my grandpa, at my fathers’ parents house, all the uncles,aunties and cousins would be there and would have a great time the afternoon of 24, then with a very dear family friends of ours I would go to a Messa Cantata at midnight. Basically you shared your time with the various parts of these large extended families which included friends.

    When I was a child and had my parents and maternal grandma, who by the way was a chef, I was very spoiled and at lunch on 25th would have plenty of home made ravioli with ragu bolognaise, and tagliatelle with mushrooms sauce, Cappone ripieno which in English would be stuffed Capon served with Salsa Verde ( a delicius accompaining sauce made with parsely, garlic, pine seeds, hard boiled egg yolk, bit of capers and 1 salted anchovy, white soft part of bread softned in vinegar and lemon, all grounded in a mixer to obtain a cream to accompany meat and pultry dishes), then you could also have fried artichokes and mushrooms etc etc in the evening you would have Il Brodo (clear soup) with home made Tortellini , according to Nonna fantasy and mood as she loved to cook and .. eat as well, so she would prepare all sorts of nice receipies., these are just hints! Have I made your mouth dribble now?? Unfortunately I do not possess any of my grandma cooking skills…sigh!

    Normally these dishes were prepared in quantities as it was routine to share parts with friends who appreciate grandma receipies or people in the neighborough who would be alone, so you would easily see me or my mun travelling with dishes and pans in the stairs or in the street. You did not have to be rich to share, as everything was homemade and there were much less ‘ expressly bought presents’.
    At those times, seems like centuries ago, as society in large cities has damatically changed, families were larger and people who lived in the same building or neighborough would be more close. In small towns or villages like those where the Boys live, I believe and hope that this change has not happened yet, at least not so much.

    1. Mllla, Thank you for the wonderful description of your  family traditions and all the food your Nonna prepared.  To have a chef in the family must have been extra special, tagliatelle,  ravioli, tortellini … oh my! Yes, you made my mouth water!

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S®4

      1. Thanks Mfa , but let me tell you, through some US friends, when I was a student I tasted the upsidedown cake and it was just delicious, I love cheesecake as well, so one day or the other I am expecting to have hints and receipies from yr side..

  6. Mlla – Do you mean pineapple upside down cake? If so I will get you that recipe! Cheesecake is fantastic – but when I want that I just go to the “Cheesecake Factory” – hahaha! Seriously, I will get you a great pineapple upside down cake recipe!

  7. Oh Mlla I loved the dishes from your families Christmas you mentioned & my mouth is watering.. Thanks for sharing. We Canadians do gather with friends & family & it depends on how large the family is.
    Have a wonderful Christmas Mlla & I so enjoy your stories of your culture in Italy & all the tidbits of information you give us. I hope the New Years brings you peace & prosperity.

  8. Mllo, Thank you for all the information about Italy. I ever get tired of hearing about Italy. I was in Italy last May and would love to go back again!

  9. The comments bring tears to my eyes as they are similar to my memories of Mom and Papa. I was so spoiled – I realize that now in retrospect. Thanks to all of you for this great site. How did I live without it?

    1. Marie S. , hold on onto yr good memories they are the roots that keep you grounded, and look and smile at the future. All the best to u and all.

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