Before the pictorial I want to throw in a video from LynnK. She assures me that “this is a popular children’s Christmas song in Italy!”
Well…That’s one Italian song I’m not dying for the Guys to sing.
Thought you all might want to see what Christmas looks like “across the pond.”
The Vatican Takes Center Stage
On Christmas Eve, all eyes turn to Vatican City where the Pope says Midnight Mass. St. Peter’s Square displays a life-size Nativity scene as well as a 100-foot Christmas tree. While the Vatican is the center of Rome’s Christmas celebrations, there are many more ways to enjoy Christmas in Rome including markets, a Nativity museum and special church services.
Milan’s Magical Holiday Feel
Milan’s cathedral (Duomo) looks magical during the Christmas season. The city of Milan is famous for its shopping and that’s no different at holiday time when Christmas markets fill the city. Locations include Castello Sforzesco,Piazza Sant’Ambrogio and the streets leading up to the Duomo.
Christmas Lights in Turin
Each year, at the end of the November and just in time for Christmas the city of Turin presents Luci d’Artista, an installation of art exhibits using light as the medium. The displays transform the streets of the city into a magical, other worldly place.
Naples: A Christmas Street of Artistry
Italians are crazy for presepi (Nativity scenes) and presepi-central is the street of Via San Gregorio Armeno in Naples where craftsmen use techniques handed down for generations to create the traditional figurines of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men, as well as more contemporary figures like Pope Benedict and Barack Obama.
(Obama statues in Italy? Why don’t we have Il Volo statues in the U.S.? Someone get that started!)
Herald the Zampognari
The zampognari are shepherds from Abruzzo and surrounding regions who play thezampogna, a bagpipe-like instrument. In days gone by, they came down from their work in the hills to entertain their families and others for Christmas. You can still see these shepherds at events throughout Italy, even strolling the streets of Rome during the festive season. (Where’s Gianluca?)
Christmas Market in Bolzano
Christmas markets are held throughout Italy but are particularly popular in the northern part of the country which has been influenced by the strong Germanic tradition of holiday markets. Bolzano’s Christmas market is the largest in Italy.
Living Nativity Scenes
Italians enjoy the tradition of reenacting the birth of Jesus through live Nativity scenes. One of the largest takes place in Puglia where 250 residents of Tricase dress in period clothing. This photo captures the live Nativity pageant ofArmenzano, near Assisi. (Photo by Roberto Pollastrini)
Siena Shares in the Holiday Spirit
The Tuscan city of Siena is filled with holiday cheer with Christmas markets in the city’s piazzas, Christmas concerts and the famous Christmas tree in the center of Piazza dei Salimbeni.
Santa Claus a.k.a Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) is a relatively new introduction to Christmas in Italy. The character most eagerly anticipated by Italian children is La Befana, a witch who rides around on her broom on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) delivering goodies. (Are you sure that’s not my Aunt Rosie?)
Christmas Eve: Feast of Seven FishesOn Christmas Eve, Italian families indulge in the traditional Christmas Eve (la Viglia) “Feast of Seven Fishes.” The tradition dates back to the days of Roman Catholic abstinence on holy days. “Seven” may relate to the number of sacraments or the number of days it took God to create the world.
Panettone: The Italian Christmas Dessert
Reportedly, the average Italian family consumes 5.5 pounds of panettone – a cupola-shaped rich, buttery cake – per year and much of this is during the Christmas season. This delectable dessert has its origins in Milan. (Ann, I even tried an Italian Bakery! Can’t find it!)
To wish your Italian friends “Merry Christmas” say Buon Natale!
Now there’s one greeting we all know!